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Planters Selection Key to Conservation Planting Success

By Alan Shadow, East Texas Plant Materials Center Manager

Establishing conservation plantings is no easy task. Native seed are often small or fluffy and create a unique set of problems for the conservationist to overcome. Planters must be capable of planting these small, fluffy seeds at a consistent rate and shallow, controlled depth. Planting small seed too deeply is the number one cause of conservation planting failures. Selecting the proper planter with the right configuration of seed boxes and understanding their proper use will greatly increase the odds of successful plantings. In conjunction with handling seed, the planter must also be suited for conditions found at the site, be it rocks and debris, standing plant residue, softly prepared seedbed, or hard packed ground.

The USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program develops technical notes and videos to aid landowners and conservations in developing successful plantings.  

For more information, download supporting technical notes and YouTube© videos below:

Native seed boxes with aggressive agitation and pick wheels that reach in and pull seed into drop tubes are the most reliable when planting fluffy native seed. Left arrow points to agitation auger and beaters and right arrow points to pickwheel

Native seed boxes with aggressive agitation and pick wheels that reach in and pull seed into drop tubes are the most reliable when planting fluffy native seed.

 
This is an image showing the picker wheel and agitation auger inside a native seed box on a planter

Inside of a native seed box

 
Close-up image of hand pointing to seeds in the soil.
Proper seed placement is critical; these seed were not planted deeply enough and are exposed
 
This is an image of a food plot planter getting ready to plant native grasses into a cut over showing the hard backed ground and some debris that would interfere with a standard grain drill.
A food plot planter being getting ready to seed native grasses into clear cut with hard packed ground and debris.
 
This image shows several types of planters in a row side by side for comparison.
There are many types of planters, each with their own strength and weaknesses depending on the type of planting to be done and seed being used.