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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

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

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

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

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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Regina P. Bracy and Richard L. Parish

A precision seeder (Stanhay Model 870) and a bulk seeder (Planet Jr.) were used to evaluate the effects of precision seeding, seed spacing, and row configuration on yield and grade-out of two cultivars of root turnips. Seed spacings for the precision seeder included within-row (WIR) spacings of 56, 112, and 168 mm in single plant line/row and 112 and 168 mm in two plant lines/row. Seed spacings with the bulk seeder were obtained by using 100% viable seed or a 50% viable: 50% killed seed mix. The experiments were conducted during the spring and fall on two rows on a 1.2-m-wide bed. Total yield was not affected by plant population or seeder. Plant population, however, caused a shift in yield among grades. Yield of culls increased as plant population increased. Yield of extra-large (>114 mm) roots decreased as plant population increased. Turnips seeded 168 mm apart in a single line/row yielded more extra-large and large (25-114 mm) grade roots and less medium (4-24 mm) and cull (<4 mm or misshapen) roots. More consistent results were obtained with the precision seeder than the bulk seeder. During both seasons, yield was lower for the hybrid (`Royal Crown') cultivar than for the open-pollinated (`Purple Top White Globe') cultivar.

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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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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 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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Wayne C. Porter and Richard L. Parish

The initial investment of a precision seeder is cost prohibitive to many small vegetable growers. This study was initiated to evaluate the use of a relatively inexpensive bulk seeder to plant cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Capitata). Cabbage was direct-seeded with a precision seeder or a relatively inexpensive bulk seeder. Treatments with the bulk seeder consisted of blending viable hybrid seed with nonviable, nonhybrid seed at several ratios to reduce hybrid seed cost and optimize plant spacing. Seed ratios represented 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 100% viable seed. Pre-thin plant stands of 30 and 40% hybrid seed treatments were similar to precision-seeded plant stands. Average head size was greatest with 10, 20, and 30% hybrid seed ratios. Marketable yields were similar for all hybrid seed ratios except the 10% ratio. Production costs per acre for the precision seeder were between that of the 40 and 50% ratios. Net income for 40% hybrid seed was similar to that of the precision seeder.