Hand Planter Training, El Salvador, Dr. Edgar Ascencio, April 2016
World Hand Planter Brochure: On this web site, we have included
some basic information on maize area in the world and estimates of the total
amount planted by hand.The problem with maize planted in the third
world (Sub Saharan Africa, Asia, Central and South America) is that they
essentially use heavy sticks whereby 2-4 seeds are planted per hill (first
picture below, and left), roughly 35 cm apart.While incredibly inefficient, this method of
planting is commonplace for third world maize farmers, largely dictated by
terrain, circumstance, and resources.If single seeds could be planted 14-17 cm apart,
much like conventional planters accomplish in the developed world,
production levels could easily increase 25%.Despite the fact that third world maize yields
are generally less than 2.0 Mg/ha (Dowswell et al., 1996), this 25% yield
increase on 60% of the hand planted maize area in the third world would be
worth more than 2.4 billion dollars/year (see calculations below).
We have developed a hand planter
very similar in shape, size, and weight to the one seen in the first
photograph on our web site, but that can reliably plant 1 seed, in various
soil textures, moisture, and tillage systems.Initially, development, production, and delivery
would need to be subsidized, thus the need for grant funds.But with time, local manufacture/industry
creation of our new hand planter would also lead to more jobs. Added
benefits of the new hand planter would be to remove chemically treated seeds
(organophosphates, carbamates, chlordanes, +others) from the hands of small
farmers.Decreased soil erosion from improved contour planting,
and plant proximity will also be achieved. With time, we hope to modify the
final prototype so as to accommodate mid season applications of urea
fertilizer. Placing urea fertilizer below the surface, really via any
mechanism is critical for improved nitrogen use efficiency.
This tool by itself would offer an
affordable, easily adoptable technology for virtually all third world maize
farmers.With modest funding for development and initial
subsidized hand planters, this could provide widespread increases in
third-world maize production that would rival most advances made in the last
CIMMYT mega-environment database;
C.R. Dowswell, R.L. Paliwal and R.P. Cantrell, Maize in the Third World,
Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press, 1996.
Could these planters work
using a protective rubber glove? Yes, but, the problem
is that producers will not wear the gloves because they rely on finger
dexterity and sensing to feel individual seeds. At the end of the day they
have imbibed chemicals via skin to chemical surface contact.
aware of these planters and that have been discussed.
The problem (demonstrated in the
first video), is that they won’t wear the latex/rubber gloves.In most parts of the world, it is hot and humid, at the time of “hand
planting”.As such, the human
element of being able to singulate (using their fingers, and sensitivity in
their fingers), relies on “not having gloves on.”Are they (the producers) aware of the chemical contamination risks?Some are.So, because OSU
is well aware, we think they need a hand planter makes that makes the
decision for them. Marv Stone showed
us a patent from Dickey-John that was older, but that recognized each seed
(counted them as they passed by x-sensor).
Chinese farmers currently feed 20% of the global population using only 9% of
the world’s arable land. Their traditional corn farming technique —
involving planting two to three kernels of corn per mound of soil just to
get one plant to grow — highlighted a need for a more efficient planting
technology. While this technique may have improved the odds, it had a habit
of creating high seed and labor costs. Which is why in 2002, DuPont Pioneer
entered the China seed market with the goal of
increasing yield by creating a high-quality seed that did not need to be
planted at high rates. It wasn’t long, however, before Pioneer realized seed
quality was only part of the equation. Farmers there needed to address
overall planting and growing concerns to be truly successful.
of wasted corn plants could be saved with vacuum planting.
Planting better seeds, in a smarter way.
Pioneer partnered with Hebei Nonghaha Agricultural Machinery Group, a local
equipment manufacturer, to jointly develop a vacuum planter — the first of
its kind in the country — that would allow Chinese farmers to plant corn
using only one seed per mound. Improved single kernel planting technology
raises the productivity and efficiency of Pioneer’s corn, lowers the seed
volume farmers need to purchase, reduces manual labor, and ensures more land
can be used for other products, like grain, diversifying and increasing the
area’s food production output.
So far, it’s working — single kernel planting is becoming a trend in China,
and if the vacuum planter continues to be widely adopted, it’s estimated
that 1/3 of corn plants wasted by the manual thinning process could be
saved. Additionally, China could decrease its amount of
seed production land, essentially growing more grain on less land, thanks to
better seeding and farming. Farmer feedback is positive, as the program
benefits farmers with lower costs, less labor, increased yields, and
additional revenue. This collaborative project between Pioneer, Nonghaha,
and the farmers of China
won the 2008 DuPont Sustainable Growth Award, in recognition of their work
revolutionizing the industry and allowing more of the country to be fed in a