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Richard L. Parish and Regina P. Bracy

Selecting the proper seeder setup to effectively meter a given seed lot can be very difficult for a vegetable grower, especially if the seed lot is not graded for size uniformity. A belt-type seeder should be able to effectively singulate the seeds if the seeds are spherical and uniform because the holes are specifically sized. Seeds that are not graded for size uniformity may not be singulated effectively by a belt-type seeder. A vacuum-type seeder should be able to uniformly meter a wider range of seed sizes better than a belt-type seeder since the holes in the seed plate must only be smaller than the smallest seeds in the lot. Seed lots (graded and ungraded) of two cultivars of turnip (Brassica rape L. Rapifera group) were metered with a belt seeder using belts with holes 6/64 inch (2.4 mm) or 7/64 inch (2.8 mm) in diameter or with a vacuum seeder. Neither the belt nor vacuum seeder resulted in satisfactory singulation with any of the seed lots. With the larger [7/64 inch (2.8 mm)] belt holes, there were excessive incidences of multiple seeds per drop. With the smaller [6/64 inch (2.4 mm)] belt holes, multiple drops and missed seed were both excessive. The vacuum seeder also resulted in excessive misses and multiples.

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Wayne C. Porter and Richard L. Parish

Cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Capitata) was direct-seeded with a precision seeder or with a bulk seeder. Treatments with the bulk seeder consisted of blending viable, hybrid cabbage seed with nonviable, open-pollinated seed at several ratios to reduce the cost of planting hybrid seed. The study demonstrated that farmers with small acreages can obtain equivalent net income per acre using bulk seeders compared to using more expensive precision seeders. The study also showed that the additional cost per acre of a precision seeder is small compared to other input costs (for the acreage assumptions used here). Low percentages of hybrid seed in the bulk seeder (10% to 50%) were not economical. Precision seeding to a stand reduced the need for thinning labor and resulted in equivalent yields and net income.

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Richard L. Parish and Regina P. Bracy

An Earthway garden seeder (model 1001B) is frequently used for seeding small research and demonstration plots as well as home gardens. Seeding uniformity tests were conducted with 18 species of vegetable in this seeder using the planter plates recommended by Earthway, alternate plates, and plates modified by taping off metering ports to change the seeding rates and spacings. Performance with the Earthway seeder with most vegetable seeds would not qualify it as a precision seeder, but the Earthway seeder can do an acceptable job of planting many vegetable seeds in small plots at less than 1/10th the cost of a commercialquality precision seeder. A table giving specific recommendations for each of the 18 species has been prepared to aid research and extension personnel as well as home gardeners.

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Regina P. Bracy and Richard L. Parish

Stands of brassica crops obtained with precision seeders are sometimes inadequate or nonuniform. Although several types of covering devices and presswheels are available from precision seeder manufacturers, the effects of covering devices and presswheels on plant emergence of direct-seeded Brassica crops have not been determined. In Spring and Fall 1996, six crops of mustard [Brassica juncea (L.) Czerniak] and four crops of cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. capitata group) were direct seeded with a precision belt seeder using four covering devices and four rear presswheels. All of the covering devices and presswheels evaluated were adequate for direct seeding mustard and cabbage under the soil moisture conditions and soil type (silt loam or fine sandy loam) found in these experiments. Although poor stands were obtained with all seed covering devices and presswheels when 7.8 inches (199 mm) of rain occurred within 3 days of planting, plant stand of cabbage was greater when the paired arm device was used than with drag-type or no covering devices.

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Richard L. Parish and Regina P. Bracy

Selecting the proper seeder setup to meter a given seed lot effectively can be very difficult for a vegetable grower, especially if the seed lot is not graded for size uniformity. A belt-type seeder should effectively singulate the seeds if the seeds are spherical and uniform because the holes are specifically sized. Seeds that are not graded for size uniformity may not be singulated effectively by a belt-type seeder. A vacuum-type seeder should uniformly meter a wider range of seed sizes better than a belt-type seeder since the holes in the seed plate must only be smaller than the smallest seeds in the lot. Seed lots (graded and ungraded) of two turnip (Brassica rapa L. rapifera group) cultivars were metered with a belt seeder using belts with holes 6/64 inch (2.4 mm) or 7/64 inch (2.8 mm) in diameter or with a vacuum seeder. Neither the belt nor vacuum seeder satisfactorily singulated any of the seed lots. With the larger (7/64 inch) belt holes, there were excessive incidences of multiple seeds per drop. With the smaller (6/64 inch) belt holes, multiple drops and missed seed were excessive. The vacuum seeder also resulted in excessive misses and multiples.

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Regina P. Bracy and Richard L. Parish

Stanhay, Carraro, and Gaspardo precision vegetable seeders were evaluated for seeding uniformity with seeds of five vegetable crops—cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Capitata group), carrot (Daucus carota L.), cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), onion (Allium cepa L. Cepa group), and spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.). Five measurements [mean, percentage of misses, percentage of multiples, quality of feed, and precision (defined as the coefficient of variation after misses and multiples were discarded)] were used to evaluate seeder uniformity. Using all five measurements provided a more complete determination of the metering uniformity of the seeders than was possible in prior work when only mean and coefficient of variation were used. The belt seeder (Stanhay) was effective at singulating spherical seeds (cabbage) and nearly spherical seeds (onion)as the most precise vacuum seeder (Carraro). Seeding uniformity of all seeders with elongated (carrot and cucumber) or angular (spinach) seeds was inadequate for precision seeding.

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Regina P. Bracy and Richard L. Parish

Manufacturers of certain vegetable seeders have promoted their products as precision seeders and implied that their products are more accurate at seeding uniformity than typical agronomic seeders. A comparison of the seeding uniformity of several vegetable seeders and agronomic seeders was made to evaluate this assumption. Two vegetable seeders and two agronomic seeders were evaluated for seeding uniformity and precision using soybean seed. The Stanhay S870 (belt-type) vegetable seeder had the best seeding uniformity and precision spacing of all the seeders tested. The Gaspardo SV255 (vacuum) vegetable seeder and the John Deere 7200 MaxEmerge (fingermeter) agronomic seeder were comparable in seeding uniformity and precision, although fewer skips were noted with the John Deere. The Great Plains 8030 (brushmeter) agronomic seeder had a large number of skips and multiples and poor seeding precision.

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Richard L. Parish, Regina P. Bracy, and Hershel F. Morris Jr.,

A study was conducted to evaluate the effect of banding or broadcasting fertilizer on yield and quality of turnip (Brassica rapa L. Rapifera group), sweetcorn (Zea mays var. rugosa Bonaf), and cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Capitata group). Preplant fertilizer was applied broadcast prior to bedding, broadcast after bedding, or banded after bedding. Sidedress applications were broadcast or banded on the beds. Strong visual differences were noticed early in the season in the spring turnip crop with the growth in the broadcast-then-bed treatment appearing superior. The yield at first harvest and total yield were lower for turnip growth with the bed-and-broadcast treatments. No differences in yield of cabbage and sweetcorn resulted from the treatments. Few differences in turnip stem to leaf ratio were noted due to fertilizer treatment. Few differences in yield due to sidedress method were noted with any of the crops. Since broadcasting can be done with a faster, wider applicator, growers could reduce costs by broadcasting fertilizer and obtain yields that are at least equivalent to the yields from banding.

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Regina P. Bracy, Richard L. Parish, and Joe E. McCoy

Precision vegetable seeders were found to have unexpected variation in seed spacing uniformity. A belt seeder and vacuum seeder were evaluated using cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. capitata group) seeded at different seed spacings to determine if seeder uniformity improved with increasing seed spacing. Seeding uniformity of the belt seeder was not affected by seed spacing, but uniformity of the vacuum seeder was. Variation in seed spacing with the vacuum seeder was consistent in absolute units, thus seed spacing nonuniformity (expressed as a percentage of theoretical spacing) decreased with increasing seed spacing. Operating the vacuum seeder with the air pressure seed release mechanism disengaged improved seeder precision. Uniformity and precision of the belt seeder were better than that of the vacuum seeder.

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Richard L. Parish, Edward W. Bush, and Dennis P. Shepard

A simplified design for measuring the height of turfgrass (or forage) was developed and used by the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station (LAES). The device is similar to the common “disc meter” devices used for turfgrass and forage height measurement, but it uses a constant-force spring to simplify construction and operation. Use-of a constant-force spring allows a steady operating force on the sliding member of the device and eliminates the need for machining slots, thus greatly simplifying construction and reducing cost. The simplified device has worked well in the turfgrass research program of the LAES.