Labour saving technologies and practices: Row planting, hand seeders and planters


This text includes features of hand seeders and planters including jab planters to plant in rows. © Labour saving technologies and practices. FAO 2007


Labour saving technologies and practices: features of row planting

Planting in rows for closely spaced crops: spikes are hammered into beams at planting row distances. The beams are pulled across the field to mark the rows. The seeds are dribbled into the furrows and covered over.

Planting in rows for more widely spaced crops: Rows are marked in the same way as described above. Planting holes are dug using hoes, seeds are dropped in and covered over. Fertilising can be carried out at the same time, using the feet to cover the seed and fertiliser with soil.

Features of hand seeders and planters

Hand seeders and planters make it easier to plant in rows.

In very simple hand pulled or pushed seed drills the metering of the seed is done by one operator metering the seed in by hand. In more complex and costly versions the metering mechanism is mechanical.

Hand pushed or pulled seeders require well prepared seedbeds for their use so they are not suitable for planting through cover crops or mulches.

Jab planters are able to plant seeds into untilled soil and through mulch, and are suited to reduced tillage farming systems.

Both hand seeders and jab planters can be used with fertiliser attachments to enable both operations to be carried out at the same time.



Advantages of row planting
Labour saving: row planting makes weeding and harvesting easier. It is also possible to use mechanised inter-row weeding and so saves labour and time. The crop related activities require less drudgery and time, lowering the work load of farmers if compared with conventional manual methods.
Livelihood resilience strengthening: planting in rows enables inter-cropping or mulching. Most crops are easier to inspect for pests and diseases when grown in rows. The crop quality improves and therefore the production will improve as well. Higher yields contribute to generate more income opportunities.
Skills: simple training in row planting methods.
Cost: more economical use of seed in comparison to broadcasting.
Advantages of seeders and planters
Labour saving: operators work standing upright with jab planters and hand pushed or pulled seeders so they are generally less tiring than planting with a hoe. The equipment improves speed and accuracy of sowing, with work rates up to four times higher than for planting by traditional methods.
Livelihood resilience strengthening: enables accurate placement of fertiliser in relation to seed and a more uniform distribution. This helps to achieve higher crop yields.
Equipment: jab planters are suitable for use in conservation agriculture systems.
Skills: simple training in use and maintenance of equipment
Cost: economies in use of seed.


Labour: it takes more time to plant in rows than broadcast but the labour saving benefits are reaped later in the season (weeding, crop inspection and harvesting). Takes some time to learn how to use planters.
Cost: the additional cost of planters with more sophisticated metering mechanisms may not be justified in terms of the savings arising from reduced seed use and labour savings.





Created date

Tue, 13/09/2011 - 12:52


Rural Infrastructure and Agro-industries Division (Agricultural Machinery and Infrastructure) AGS in FAO

The Agricultural Machinery and Infrastructure Unit reinforces FAO and public sector capacity to make sound decisions with respect to procurement of and investments in agricultural sector-related machinery, equipment and infrastructure.The Unit serves as global reference within FAO for knowledge on agricultural machinery, implements and equipment specifications and standards, as well as agricultural related infrastructure facilities and services.  It assembles and provides data and information in these areas and on best engineering practices.

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Josef Kienzle
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