Transplanters in modern agriculture
If you are a grower of vegetables, tomatoes, hemp, or other transplantable crops at any scale, you probably fall into one of two categories:
- You have one or more planting machines in operation already.
- You’ve considering purchasing a transplanter of some type.
Whether or not you’ve invested in a planting machine for your agricultural operation, it’s important to understand the many types of planting machine, the newest transplanting technology, and other aspects that impact which system is best for you.
Planting Machines: What Are They and How Do They Work?
Planting machines, also known as transplanters, are available in a variety of configurations. The following are the broad categories of transplanter.
A circular revolving set of trays in a carousel-style planter allows employees to drop seedlings into each receptacle as it passes by. Carousel transplanters are nearly always semiautomatic, which means that one employee is required to load the plants into each planting head.
Transplantation Systems that are Automated
A planting machine is integrated into a bigger technical solution in automated transplanting systems. PlantTape, a business that specializes in agricultural technology, has created an automated transplanting system that incorporates seeding, nursery operations, and transplanting. One part of the bigger system is the PlantTape automated transplanter.
Planting Machine (Semiautomatic)
Tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, celery, lettuce, and onions are among the vegetables that semiautomatic planting robots can manage. Even in the most challenging ground conditions, most semiautomatic transplanters produce outstanding planting quality. Both flat and raised beds may be used with this transplanter.
Semiautomatic transplanters, as the name implies, are partially automated but still require human effort to operate. A worker sits over each planting head in most of these planters and feeds seedlings into it.
Planting Machine with Full Automation
With minimum human interaction, a completely automated seedling planter grows vegetables and other seedling crops.
While no transplanter is completely automated—at least one human must be present at all times—automated transplanters do not require people to feed seedlings into individual planting heads. As a result, they considerably lessen the load of agricultural work.
Transplanters for Walking Behind
Walk-behind planting machines are less expensive than their powered equivalents, making them ideal for smaller agricultural businesses. An operator walks behind the transplanter and operates it with grips and levers, similar to a rototiller. This rice transplanter from Harvester Machine is an excellent example of a walk-behind transplanter.
Motorized self-propelled transplanters include a seat and controls for the operator. They may additionally contain seating for additional laborers, depending on the kind (semiautomated versus completely automated).
Tractor pulled planters are a type of transplanter that is pulled by a tractor.
The tractor provides both forward velocity and the power required to run the apparatus when using a tractor-pulled transplanter. Tractor-pulled planting is the most frequent method for large-scale transplanting operations.
Paper Pot Planters
Paper pot planting machines are specialized equipment used in small-scale farming to plant high-density plantings of cut greens, scallions, and other row crops. They’re commonly used as a time-saving substitute for hand-seeding or hand transplanting.
The chain of paper pots feeds via the transplanter. Seedlings are planted at your selected spacing when you pull the bed down.
Because of their labor-intensive nature, paper pot transplanters are rarely employed in large-scale agricultural production. Most paper pot planters are walk-behind planting machines, like this one from Johnny’s (see above).
Tape Planting Machines
Tape planting machines, like the one mentioned above from PlantTape, feed biodegradable tape through the planting modules. The seedlings are contained in distinct planting soil compartments by the tape. Each planting module cuts the tape between plants and inserts each plant into the soil as the tape passes belt-style through the planting modules.
Tape-based transplantation is a revolutionary advancement in transplantation technique.
Factors in Buying a Transplanter
When looking for a transplanter, there are a few things to keep in mind.
The size of your farm.
Small farms are much more likely than big farms to plant a varied range of crops, according to the American Vegetable Grower’s State of the Vegetable Industry report. Small vegetable farms may grow everything from small-seeded crops like carrots to large-seeded pumpkins. In a plastic-lined/mulched container, they can grow bare-root sweet potatoes and strawberries.
When a single planter must plant a huge number of different commodity varieties, the technology involved becomes more complex.
Another factor to consider for small farms is if they share equipment with neighbors. If you do, you’ll need planting and transplanting tools that can easily adjust row widths to fit everyone.
In big operations, planting should be done in as few passes as feasible, with no double or triple passes over the same row. You will benefit from irrigation and fertilizer applicators.
Your window for planting.
The weather is one of the main elements that contributes to the shrinking of a viable planting window. You might wish to go back ten years and evaluate how much weather has affected your planting timetable.
Planting thousands of acres takes substantially longer than planting hundreds of acres, hence large farms almost usually have a short planting schedule.
Another important consideration is the capacity of the transplanting system. A machine that holds more seedlings requires less restocking and saves time.
When speed is a top priority, precision becomes even more critical.
If you’re a small or medium enterprise with a longer planting window, the extra time for irrigation and feeding, as well as reloading, isn’t an issue, and you can save money by using a more basic machine.
There is a labor shortage for all ag producers, large and small. And there’s no indication that the trend will change anytime soon.
Consider using transplanters that require fewer individuals to operate if you’re having difficulties locating enough people to help with the planting.
Planting Machines are an Expensive Purchase.
In many cases, a new and efficient planting machine can be one of the best investments a grower makes into his or her operation. It must, however, be carefully evaluated.
Only you know your cashflow, appetite for risk, plans to grow (or not), and other variables that influence a decision like this.
By doing your homework and considering the points in this article, we’re confident you’ll make the best choice.