« AnteriorContinuar »
Pusey wrote: ''The sower with his seedlip has almost vanished from southern England, driven out by a complicated machine, the drill, depositing the seed in rows, and drawn by several horses." In America, the first patent granted on a seeding machine was in 1799. A slide broadcast seeder, which was a riding implement, was patented in 1835; the rotary broadcast seeder came in 1856; the grain drill in 1874; and the riding grain drill in 1884.
The Wagon Seeder is the best machine that has ever been devised for rapidly broadcasting wheat. It is mounted on a special tail-board, which, when the machine is used, is substituted for the tail-board of the wagon. It consists of a seedhopper; a driving shaft connected by a sprocket chain with a sprocket wheel fastened to one of the rear wagon wheels; a rotating seed plate in the bottom of the hopper; and a
A MODERN PRESS DRILL WITH DISCS
distributing wheel shaped like a windmill. The grain falls upon the distributing wheel, from which it is effectively scattered by centrifugal force. In the ordinary force-feed seeder gravity does the distributing, but here the additional factor of the centrifugal force given by the distributing wheel is involved. Two men and one team can broadcast 100 acres a day with this machine.
The Press Drill is similar to the ordinary broadcast seeder in that it carries, parallel to the axis of its two wheels, a seed-box having a number of seed-cups in its bottom. From these cups the seed is brought by feed-wheels which are attached to a revolving shaft. This force feed was the first great
improvement over utilizing gravity alone for the purpose of distributing the seed. The grain falls into a tube, which, instead of scattering it as in the seeder, carries it in a steady stream to the bottom of the shoe. The soil is pressed laterally by the shoe, and the seed finds a moist bed in which to germinate. It differs from the ordinary drill in that it presses a V groove instead of scratching a trench. The press or shoe drill has largely superseded the hoe drill, especially in the far west. Disc drills are also used, but they are not adapted to stony, hilly or wet land. Drills and broadcast seeders are made in standard widths of 8, 11 and 14 feet. The tendency in recent years is to drill in the wheat, except perhaps in California. In the Red river valley four-horse press drills covering 12 feet are used. About 30 acres a day are sown by one man, and no
A TYPICAL FORCE FEED BROADCAST SEEDER subsequent cultivation is necessary. By the old method of seeding by hand, one man could sow about 16 acres per day, and the wheat had to be cultivated into the ground after it was sown.
The Order in Which Seeders Have Evolved is somewhat as follows: (1) Sowing by hand; (2) the broadcast seeder, taking the place of the hand, the flow of the seed depending on gravity; (3) the broadcast seeder with force feed; (4) the ordinary drill with a force feed putting the grain in evenly in rows and deeper; (5) the press drill, which is now the best machine we have for seeding. In the absence of wind, the hand grass seeder can be used advantageously for broadcasting small
Perhaps the only region in the world where nature still occasionally seeds the ground by her own methods so efficiently as to produce a crop is on the Pacific coast of the United States. Some wheat is nearly always "shed" or shelled out before or during harvest, and, if cultivated into the ground by harrowing or discing, produces what is known as a "volunteer" crop. If not enough has been shed, frequently a little more is scattered over the field, and instances are not uncommon where 25 to 30 bushels per acre have been yielded by such volunteer wheat lands.
The Amount of Seed required per acre varies with time and method of seeding, with soil and climate, with different varieties of wheat, and even with size and quality of seed of the same variety. One variety may have only half as many grains in a bushel as another. A bushel of shriveled wheat will have more grains than a bushel of plump wheat. The lower the germinating power, the more seed will have to be sown per acre. Less seed is required if the time is early, if the rainfall is light, if the soil is fertile, if the seedbed is well prepared, and if the grain is drilled. The yield, however, is not proportionate to the seed sown, for by tillering more or less, the wheat plant adjusts itself to its environment. The most usual amount sown per acre in the United States is about 5 pecks. It varies from 2 pecks in parts of California to 9 pecks in Ohio. The average amount sown per acre in the United States is 1% bushels in the winter wheat regions, l1/^ bushels in the spring wheat regions, 7 to 9 pecks in the Middle Atlantic states, 6 to 8 pecks in the Mississippi and Ohio valleys, and 3 to 8 pecks in California.1
The Time of Seeding varies so much with soil, climate and different varieties of wheat that, taking the world around, any time during the entire year is the best time for some particular locality. For the United States Carleton says: "It is a pretty safe rule to follow the practice of sowing always at a date which is considered to be early in that locality. At the proper time the seeding should be done at once, without regard to weather conditions."2 Local conditions must always determine the time for any particular locality. For example, if an attack of Hessian fly is imminent in a certain region, the farmers should take concerted action for later sowing. Spring wheat should usually be sown as soon as the ground is in a condition for seeding. Winter wheat sown too late lacks the vitality needed to withstand the cold, and sown too early it produces a rank and succulent growth that is injured by freezing.
1 Hunt, Cereals in Amer. (1904). p. 86. 'Yearbook U. S. Dept. Agr., 1900, p. 541.
The Depth of Seeding varies with the nature of the soil, the amount of moisture, and the condition of the seedbed. In a dry, sandy or cloddy soil, it is necessary to sow deeper than in a wet, clay, or level soil. Ordinarily, the wheat should be covered with about one inch of moist soil.
Harrowing.—After the ground is once plowed, the implement most commonly used for further cultivation, either before or after sowing the wheat, is the harrow. There are three principal objects in harrowing: (1) To kill weeds and grass, which would otherwise absorb moisture and nourishment needed by the wheat; (2) to level the surface and to keep it covered with a loose, dry mulch, both of which also conserve moisture; and (3) to cover the seed. In drilled wheat the latter is performed in sowing. All three of these objects may be attained in one operation.
The most primitive method of harrowing was to drag over the ground the limb of a tree with extending branches. This implement, like the rude plow, is often found reappearing on the frontier of civilization. It is easily improved and widened by fastening together a number of branches so that it does better work and covers a wider area. In California, in 1835, the wheat was sown broadcast by hand and brushed in with the branch of a tree drawn twice over the ground. The writer can well remember when, as late as the middle eighties, he brushed wheat into the ground with a "drag" made from scraggy wild plum trees cut on the banks of the Dakota river. A similar implement was also used in other parts of the United States. Another very primitive method of covering the grain was that used in ancient Egypt, where it was trampled into the loose ground by the hoofs of animals.
The Romans used a kind of harrow before the Christian era. In 1534 harrows with iron teeth were used in England, as well as some with wooden teeth. In Northumberland, in 1650, "the harrow was constructed without joints and without iron,
of branches of the mountain-birch, fixed together with wooden pegs, with tines of the tough broom.'' * The oldest and simplest form of the harrow had a wooden frame with teeth of wood or iron. As it was drawn over the field, it combed or raked the surface quite level. Two improvements have since been made. It is constructed in two or more sections so that it can accommodate itself to uneven ground; and flexible steel bars are used in the frame so that by means of a lever the teeth can be set at any angle. Harrows 25 feet in width are now used on the large western farms of the United States. With such a harrow one man and four horses can cover 60 to 75 acres per day.
Various other forms of harrows have been devised. The principal ones are the spring tooth and the disc harrows. The latter consists of a main frame to which are pivoted two supplementary frames. Mounted within each one of these is a shaft carrying a series of concavo-convex discs, and the whole series is rolled over the ground. Adjusting levers swing the supplemental frames to any angle in relation to the line of draft. The soil is cut and thrown out in a degree proportional to the angle set. It was first used by the Japanese in ancient times. In the last decade the disc principle has been widely applied to harrows, plows and cultivators. Cultivation by one Operation.—As early as 1618 a machine, worked by steam, was invented and patented in England which plowed and fertilized the land and sowed the seed, all at one operation.2 There is no record of its having done any work. In the same country a "double-hoppered drill-plough" was advertised as a new machine in 1744. It drilled and covered wheat and fertilizer together. Perhaps the only instance where any practical and extensive results in this line have been obtained is in California and northwestern Canada. Gang plows are used, and a broadcast seeder attached to the rear of the plow sows the seed as fast as the ground is plowed. The seeder is usually followed by a harrow, also attached to the plow. A small outfit, operated by one man and drawn by a team of eight mules, will plow, sow and harrow-in the seed in one operation at the rate of from 10 to 15 acres per day. On the large farms 1 Grey, Agr. In Northumb., p. 4.
* Perels, Bedeutung des Machinenwesens, etc., pp. 11-13.