Tractor Farming Lesson One: Planting

I’ve been working on a farm not too far from us and I’ve been learning a lot. Most recently, I learned how cool equipment can be. In my classes, I learned how much can be done by hand, but using the equipment pictured above, we got so much done in very little time. It seriously was like magic.

I found pictures of similar things by searching for “seedling planter,” but my boss just called it a planter. At any rate, it hooks on behind a tractor, the container on top is filled with water and seedlings are set on the trays in front of the seats. The tractor driver drives (very) slowly and water comes out of the container and into the yellow wheel between the seats. The wheel, when lowered to contact with the ground punches a hole and fills the hole with water. The person(s) on the seats in the back put plants from the trays into the holes and cover them quickly. We got three rows (the picture below gives you an idea how long a row is) done in about 20 minutes. It was amazing. And it was fun. My boss’s granddaughter was in the other seat teaching me how to do things and we wound up competing to see who could put more plants in the ground.

The thing for me is that I kind of want to build permanent beds so that I can build up the soil structure, rather than going two steps forward and one step back. The tractor isn’t exactly light and driving that over a place I’m going to want to plant in the future seems like it makes cover-cropping kind of pointless for compaction issues. And soil structure is really important for healthy plants:Soil structure has a major influence on water and air movement, biological activity, root growth and seedling emergence.” [Wikipedia]

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