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Richard L. Parish

A new slow-release powdered fertilizer product has been developed for use in the landscape industry. A series of tests was conducted to evaluate this product in several landscape applicator modes: turf broadcast, turf gun, and soil injection (for trees). Variables included concentration, nozzle size and type, pressure, agitation, and holding time in the tank before spraying. The product worked well in a wide variety of spray equipment and operating conditions. It could be sprayed at a rate of 0.030 kg N/L in nozzles as small as DG 8002 (0.011 L·s–1 flow rate) without nozzle plugging and at rates of up to 0.060 kg N/L in larger nozzles. The product settled out of suspension rapidly, so good agitation was critical. No differences were noted due to nozzle type or spraying pressure. Suspensions could be held overnight if properly reagitated before spraying. Foaming was a problem with this product. An antifoam agent should be considered. Large-diameter filters minimized problems.

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Richard L. Parish

A simple, inexpensive device to measure the linear tear strength (tensile strength) of a strip of turfgrass sod was constructed for use in a research program. The device was fabricated from readily available components. A standard torque wrench served as the force-measuring device, providing torque readings that were converted readily to linear force measurements. The device worked very effectively.

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Richard L. Parish

This article is a review of the current status in planting and transplanting equipment and practices for vegetable crops. A review of horticultural and agricultural engineering literature is supplemented by information from an informal survey of members of American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) committee PM-48, Fruit and Vegetable Production Engineering, and other engineers and horticulturists working in this field. Areas covered include precision seed metering, seed placement, and high-speed transplanting with automated plant handling.

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Richard L. Parish

Application of granular materials is an important part of most turfgrass maintenance programs, but is not often studied by horticulturists. Agricultural engineers have conducted many research studies over the past 50 years on the theory, testing, and use of granular applicators. Understanding the theory of granular distribution can aid horticulturists and turfgrass professionals in the effective use of spreaders. This article will review relevant engineering studies and interpret some of the results to provide help in using spreaders more effectively. Proper operating mode, proper pattern adjustment, and the use of an appropriate swath width can greatly improve pattern uniformity. For instance, a half-width pattern has been proven more effective at pattern improvement than right-angle patterns, and the detrimental effect of humidity on spreader pattern has been demonstrated.

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Richard L. Parish

Flame “cultivation” for weed control was developed about 50 years ago. The practice was very popular with Southern cotton farmers through the 1950s and 1960s, but lost favor when petroleum prices rose drastically in the 1970s. There is now a new interest in the practice of flame cultivation as a partial or total replacement for herbicides in vegetable crops. This interest is fueled by three factors: 1) an increasingly negative public perception of herbicides on vegetables, 2) a very limited selection of herbicides labeled for vegetables, and 3) limited efficacy of some of the herbicides that are registered. Flame cultivation, in combination with mechanical cultivation, can replace or supplement herbicides in some vegetable crops. The mode of action of flame cultivation is the bursting of cell walls in the weeds as the weeds are heated by a carefully directed LP gas flame. With most vegetable crops, the crop plants must be protected in some manner. This can be done with a water shield (flat fan water spray), height differential between weeds and crop, physical shield, etc. Much of the early work on flame cultivation of vegetables was done with sweet corn. Work is now underway on flame cultivation of lima beans and southernpeas, where multiple flame cultivations have proven effective at controlling weeds for which no herbicide is available.

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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

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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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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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

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.