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Mechanical-Arm and Hand-Planting Continuous Furrow Planters


[image] Drawing of a continuous furrow planterHand-planting and mechanical-arm continuous furrow planters open deep furrows for bareroot stock and pack the soil around the seedlings after they have been planted.


Mechanical-arm continuous furrow planters have a heavy frame, a colter (a blade or wheel on a plow that makes vertical cuts in the sod) and furrow widener, packing wheels, a seat for the operator, and a place to store the seedlings. Some semiautomatic planters feature mechanical arms that place the seedlings. With hand planters, the operator places the seedling directly into the furrow.

Most hand- and mechanical-arm planters are attached to the three-point hitch on a prime mover, such as a tractor. Some units produce more than a single row of seedlings. Several planters may be attached to a towbar to increase production. Often, an enclosure is provided for the comfort of the operator. Weights may be attached to the packing wheels to pack soil around the seedling more firmly.

Some models have independent, split axles to keep the frame level with the contour on steep slopes. Other versions may have built-in scarifiers or be adapted specifically for very soft or swampy sites.


The operator carefully places the seedlings directly into the furrows or into the placement arms on semiautomatic versions. With either type, the operator is responsible for keeping the seedlings vertical to avoid bad rooting. Stocking rates are controlled by the distance between seedlings and the distance between the furrows. Some models have adjustable signaling devices to alert the operator when each seedling should be placed. Continuous furrow planters can be used to plant 1,000 to 1,500 seedlings per hour.


The main advantages of continuous furrow planting are high production rates, consistent seedling placement and technique, and increased survival.


Terrain limits the operation of continuous furrow planters. Slopes must be relatively gentle for most models, and the planting site must be relatively free of obstructions. Because seedlings are planted in a single line, the operator is not free to take advantage of the most promising microsites within an area. Continuous furrows may encourage erosion and frost heaving. The quality of the planting depends on the operator's skill in maintaining uniform planting depth and root orientation. Feeding the mechanical planting device can be a tedious and uncomfortable job.

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