Seed drill

A seed drill is a device that sows the seeds for crops by positioning them in the soil and burying them to a specific depth. This ensures that seeds will be distributed evenly.

The seed drill sows the seeds at the proper seeding rate and depth, ensuring that the seeds are covered by soil. This saves them from being eaten by birds and animals, or being dried up due to exposure to sun. With seed drill machines, seeds are distributed in rows, however the distance between seeds along the row cannot be adjusted by the user as in the case of vacuum precision planters. The distance between rows is typically set by the manufacturer. This allows plants to get sufficient sunlight, nutrients, and water from the soil. Before the introduction of the seed drill, most seeds were planted by hand broadcasting, an imprecise and wasteful process with a poor distribution of seeds and low productivity. Use of a seed drill can improve the ratio of crop yield (seeds harvested per seed planted) by as much as nine times.The use of seed drill saves time and labor

Some machines for metering out seeds for planting are called planters. The concepts evolved from ancient Chinese practice and later evolved into mechanisms that pick up seeds from a bin and deposit them down a tube.

Seed drills of earlier centuries included single-tube seed drills in Sumer and multi-tube seed drills in China,[1] and later a seed drill by Jethro Tull that was influential in the growth of farming technology in recent centuries. Even for a century after Tull, hand sowing of grain remained common.

Seminatrice GRANOX
A seed drill machine which uses a shoe type coulter to place seeds underground


In older methods of planting, a field is initially prepared with a plow to a series of linear cuts known as furrows. The field is then seeded by throwing the seeds over the field, a method known as manual broadcasting. The seeds may not be sown to the right depth nor the proper distance from one another. Seeds that land in the furrows have better protection from the elements, and natural erosion or manual raking will cover them while leaving some exposed. The result is a field planted roughly in rows, but having a large number of plants outside the furrow lanes.

There are several downsides to this approach. The most obvious is that seeds that land outside the furrows will not have the growth shown by the plants sown in the furrow since they are too shallow on the soil. Because of this, they are lost to the elements. Many of the seeds remain on the surface where they are vulnerable to being eaten by birds or carried away on the wind. Surface seeds commonly never germinate at all or germinate prematurely, only to be killed by frost.

Since the furrows represent only a portion of the field's area, and broadcasting distributes seeds fairly evenly, this results in considerable wastage of seeds. Less obvious are the effects of overseeding; all crops grow best at a certain density, which varies depending on the soil and weather conditions. Additional seeding above this will actually reduce crop yields, in spite of more plants being sown, as there will be competition among the plants for the minerals, water, and the soil available. Another reason is that the mineral resources of the soil will also deplete at a much faster rate, thereby directly affecting the growth of the plants.

The invention of the seed drill dramatically improved germination. The seed drill employed a series of runners spaced at the same distance as the plowed furrows. These runners, or drills, opened the furrow to a uniform depth before the seed was dropped. Behind the drills were a series of presses, metal discs which cut down the sides of the trench into which the seeds had been planted, covering them over.

This innovation permitted farmers to have precise control over the depth at which seeds were planted. This greater measure of control meant that fewer seeds germinated early or late and that seeds were able to take optimum advantage of available soil moisture in a prepared seedbed. The result was that farmers were able to use less seed and at the same time experience larger yields than under the broadcast methods.


Chinese double-tube seed drill, published by Song Yingxing in the Tiangong Kaiwu encyclopedia of 1637.

While the Babylonians used primitive seed drills around 1400 BCE, the invention never reached Europe. Multi-tube iron seed drills were invented by the Chinese in the 2nd century BCE.[2][3][4] This multi-tube seed drill has been credited with giving China an efficient food production system that allowed it to support its large population for millennia.[4] This multi-tube seed drill may have been introduced into Europe following contacts with China.[2][3][4] In the Indian subcontinent, the seed drill was in widespread use among peasants by the time of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century.[5]

The first known European seed drill was attributed to Camillo Torello and patented by the Venetian Senate in 1566. A seed drill was described in detail by Tadeo Cavalina of Bologna in 1602.[4] In England, the seed drill was further refined by Jethro Tull in 1701 in the Agricultural Revolution. However, seed drills of this and successive types were both expensive and unreliable, as well as fragile. Seed drills would not come into widespread use in Europe until the mid to late 19th century, when manufacturing advances such as machine tools, die forging and metal stamping allowed large scale precision manufacturing of metal parts. [6]

Early drills were small enough to be pulled by a single horse, and many of these remained in use into the 1930s. The availability of steam, and later gasoline tractors, however, saw the development of larger and more efficient drills that allowed farmers to seed ever larger tracts in a single day.

Recent improvements to drills allow seed-drilling without prior tilling. This means that soils subject to erosion or moisture loss are protected until the seed germinates and grows enough to keep the soil in place. This also helps prevent soil loss by avoiding erosion after tilling. The development of the press drill was one of the major innovations in pre-1900 farming technology.


1902 Monitor seed drill detail
1902 model 12-run seed drill produced by Monitor Manufacturing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Drilling is the term used for the mechanized sowing of an agricultural crop. Traditionally, a seed drill used to consist of a hopper filled with seeds arranged above a series of tubes that can be set at selected distances from each other to allow optimum growth of the resulting plants. Seeds are spaced out using fluted paddles which rotate using a geared drive from one of the drill's land wheels—seed rate is altered by changing gear ratios. Most modern drills use air to convey seed in plastic tubes from the seed hopper to the coulters—it is an arrangement which allows seed drills to be much wider than the seed hopper—as much as 12 m wide in some cases. The seed is metered mechanically into an air stream created by a hydraulically powered onboard fan and conveyed initially to a distribution head which sub-divides the seed into the pipes taking the seed to the individual colters.

The seed drill allows farmers to sow seeds in well-spaced rows at specific depths at a specific seed rate; each tube creates a hole of a specific depth, drops in one or more seeds, and covers it over. This invention gives farmers much greater control over the depth that the seed is planted and the ability to cover the seeds without back-tracking. The result is an increased rate of germination, and a much-improved crop yield (up to eight times[7]).

The use of a seed drill also facilitates weed control. Broadcast seeding results in a random array of growing crops, making it difficult to control weeds using any method other than hand weeding. A field planted using a seed drill is much more uniform, typically in rows, allowing weeding with the hoe during the growing season. Weeding by hand is laborious and inefficient. Poor weeding reduces crop yield, so this benefit is extremely significant.

Before the operation of the seed drill, the ground must be plowed and harrowed. The plow digs up the earth and the harrow smooths the soil and breaks up any clumps. The drill must then be set for the size of the seed used. Afterwards, the grain is put in the hopper on top which then follows along behind the drill while it spaces and plants the seed. This system is still used today but has been modified and updated such that a farmer can plant many rows of seed at the same time.

A seed drill can be pulled across the field using bullocks or a tractor. Seeds sown using a seed drill are distributed evenly and placed at the correct depth in the soil.


  • The Genius of China, Robert Temple, ISBN
  • History Channel, Where Did It Come From? Episode: "Ancient China: Agriculture"

See also


  1. ^ Temple, Robert; Joseph Needham (1986). The Genius of China: 3000 years of science, discovery, and invention. New York: Simon and Schuster<Based on the works of Joseph Needham>
  2. ^ a b History Channel, Where Did It Come From? Episode: "Ancient China: Agriculture"
  3. ^ a b Joseph Needham; Gwei-Djen Lu; Ling Wang (1987). Science and civilisation in China. Cambridge University Press. pp. 48–50. ISBN 978-0-521-30358-3.
  4. ^ a b c d Temple, p.25
  5. ^ Irfan Habib, Dharma Kumar, Tapan Raychaudhuri (1987). The Cambridge Economic History of India (PDF). 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 214.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Hounshell, David A. (1984), From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932: The Development of Manufacturing Technology in the United States, Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 978-0-8018-2975-8, LCCN 83016269
  7. ^ The story of wheat | Ears of plenty | Paid subscription required

External links

1701 in science

The year 1701 in science and technology involved some significant events.


AMAZONE H. Dreyer GmbH & Co. KG (also known as:Amazone) is a German manufacturer of Agricultural machinery and municipal machinery. The headquarters and main plant of the company was founded in 1883 by Heinrich Dreyer and is located in Hasbergen-Gaste near Osnabrück.

Currently, Amazone produces a wide range of products including Fertilizer Spreaders, Sprayers, Seed drills, Tillage machinery and more. The logo is an Amazon woman riding a horse. Agricultural machinery uses an orange logo and the machinery is green and orange. The municipal machinery uses a green logo and the machinery is tan with green.

Ard (plough)

The ard, ard plough, or scratch plough is a simple light plough without a mouldboard. It is symmetrical on either side of its line of draft and is fitted with a symmetrical share that traces a shallow furrow but does not invert the soil. It began to be replaced in most of Europe by the carruca turnplough from the 7th century.

In its simplest form it resembles a hoe, consisting of a draft-pole (either composite or a single piece) pierced with a nearly vertical, wooden, spiked head (or stock) which is dragged through the soil by draft animals and very rarely by people. The ard-head is at one end a stilt (handle) for steering and at the other a share (cutting blade) which gouges the surface ground. More sophisticated models have a composite pole, where the section attached to the head is called the draft-beam, and the share may be made of stone or iron. Some have a cross-bar for handles or two separate stilts for handles (two-handled ard). The share comes in two basic forms: a socket share slipped over the nose of the ard-head; and the tang share fitted into a groove where it is held with a clamp on the wooden head. Additionally, a slender protruding chisel (foreshare) can be fitted over the top of the mainshare.


Barnala is a city in the state of Punjab of India which serves as the headquarters of the Barnala Sub Division. It is situated near Bhatinda.


Binscarth is an unincorporated urban community (pop. 425 in 2011) in the Municipality of Russell – Binscarth within the Canadian province of Manitoba that held village status prior to January 1, 2015. It is located approximately 167 kilometres (104 mi) northwest of Brandon and 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) south from Russell.

The community was originally formed around a stock farm established by the Scottish Ontario and Manitoba Land Company some three miles northwest of the current townsite. It was named after the Company founder's ancestral home in the Orkney Islands. When the Manitoba and Northwestern Railway (later CPR) was built through the area in 1886, the railway station was established at the current site of SE15-19-28W, and the community soon relocated itself there, incorporating as a village in 1917. In 2015, Binscarth amalgamated with the town of Russell and the Municipality of Russell to form the Municipality of Russell-Binscarth.

The economic base of Binscarth and area is a mix of agriculture and service businesses. Major industrial employers in the area include three potash mines nearby in Saskatchewan (Nutrien Rocanville, Mosaic K1 Esterhazy and K2 Gerald) and a canola crushing plant (Bunge) at Harrowby Manitoba.

Current NHL player Cody McLeod was born in Binscarth.

British Agricultural Revolution

The British Agricultural Revolution, or Second Agricultural Revolution, was the unprecedented increase in agricultural production in Britain due to increases in labour and land productivity between the mid-17th and late 19th centuries. Agricultural output grew faster than the population over the century to 1770, and thereafter productivity remained among the highest in the world. This increase in the food supply contributed to the rapid growth of population in England and Wales, from 5.5 million in 1700 to over 9 million by 1801, though domestic production gave way increasingly to food imports in the nineteenth century as the population more than tripled to over 32 million. The rise in productivity accelerated the decline of the agricultural share of the labour force, adding to the urban workforce on which industrialization depended: the Agricultural Revolution has therefore been cited as a cause of the Industrial Revolution.

However, historians continue to dispute when exactly such a "revolution" took place and of what it consisted. Rather than a single event, G. E. Mingay states that there were a "profusion of agricultural revolutions, one for two centuries before 1750, another emphasising the century after 1650, a third for the period 1750-1880, and a fourth for the middle decades of the nineteenth century". This has led more recent historians to argue that any general statements about "the Agricultural Revolution" are difficult to sustain.One important change in farming methods was the move in crop rotation to turnips and clover in place of fallow. Turnips can be grown in winter and are deep-rooted, allowing them to gather minerals unavailable to shallow-rooted crops. Clover fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form of fertiliser. This permitted the intensive arable cultivation of light soils on enclosed farms and provided fodder to support increased livestock numbers whose manure added further to soil fertility.

Broadcast spreader

A broadcast seeder, alternately called a broadcaster, broadcast spreader or centrifugal fertilizer spreader (Europe), is a farm implement commonly used for spreading seed, lime, fertilizer, sand, ice melt, etc., and is an alternative to drop spreaders/seeders.


Hadston is a village in Northumberland, England about 2.5 miles (4 km) south of Amble, Northumberland.

Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull may refer to:

Jethro Tull (agriculturist) (1674–1741), English agriculturist, often credited with inventing the seed drill

Jethro Tull (band), a British rock group named after the agriculturist

Jethro Tull (agriculturist)

Jethro Tull (1674 – 21 February 1741, New Style) was an English agricultural pioneer from Berkshire who helped bring about the British Agricultural Revolution. He perfected a horse-drawn seed drill in 1700 that economically sowed the seeds in neat rows. He later developed a horse-drawn hoe. Tull's methods were adopted by many great landowners and helped to provide the basis for modern agriculture.

List of English inventors and designers

This is a list of English inventors and designers.

List of agricultural machinery

Agricultural equipment is any kind of machinery used on a farm to help with farming. The best-known example of this kind is the tractor.


Louche (Chinese: 耧车; pinyin: lóuche; literally: 'drill sowing vehicle') was a mobile animal-drawn agricultural seed drill invented by the Chinese agronomist Zhao Guo, a Han official in charge of agricultural production during the reign of Han Wudi in the Han dynasty. According to the records of Political Commentator by the Eastern Han dynasty writer Cui Shi, the Louche consisted of three feet and thus was called three-legged Lou. The three legs had three ditch diggers under it used for sowing. The Louche was animal powered and was pulled by an ox and the leg of the Louche directly dug a ditch in the flattened soil, sowed the seeds, covered the seeds, and pressed the land flat at the same time. The machine was known for its utility and efficiency for serving several agricultural uses at the same time, while saving time and effort.


Mechanization is the process of changing from working largely or exclusively by hand or with animals to doing that work with machinery. In an early engineering text a machine is defined as follows:

Every machine is constructed for the purpose of performing certain mechanical operations, each of which supposes the existence of two other things besides the machine in question, namely, a moving power, and an object subject to the operation, which may be termed the work to be done.

Machines, in fact, are interposed between the power and the work, for the purpose of adapting the one to the other.

In some fields, mechanization includes the use of hand tools. In modern usage, such as in engineering or economics, mechanization implies machinery more complex than hand tools and would not include simple devices such as an ungeared horse or donkey mill. Devices that cause speed changes or changes to or from reciprocating to rotary motion, using means such as gears, pulleys or sheaves and belts, shafts, cams and cranks, usually are considered machines. After electrification, when most small machinery was no longer hand powered, mechanization was synonymous with motorized machines. Extension of mechanization of the production process is termed as automation and it is controlled by a closed loop system in which feedback is provided by the sensors. It controls the operations of different machines automatically.


The Nardi Group, founded by Francesco Nardi in 1895, is one of the leading Italian manufacturers of agricultural machinery distributing today in 85 countries around the world.

It is based in Selci Lama in the province of Perugia and is specialized in the production of plows which can boast of having built the 'largest specimen.The Nardi Group is also the owner of the trademarks MARZIA and SOGEMA, which were family holding companies folded into the main company in the early 2000s.In December 2017, the Nardi group was sold to Xete Investments, and English company for restructuring.

Reynolds-Alberta Museum

The Reynolds-Alberta Museum, in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada is one of 19 provincially owned and operated historic sites and museums. It traces the mechanization of Alberta's transportation, aviation, agricultural, and industrial past from the 1890s to present, as cars and trucks replaced horse-drawn buggies and wagons, huge factories replaced the village blacksmith shop, and mechanized equipment replaced animal and human-powered farm implements. The stories told by each exhibit reveal how the daily lives of Albertans were affected during this period of rapid change.

The Main Gallery is designed as a "highway through time", beginning with a horse-drawn carriage of the late 19th century and featuring four stations; a 1911 factory, a 1920s grain elevator, a 1930s service station, and a 1950s drive-in. The centre of the gallery has artifacts and displays that showcase agriculture through the four seasons of the year.

The museum spaces include a cafe, meeting rooms, exhibition display areas, 120 seat theatre, museum store, Resource Centre (non-lending library), Restoration Shop and Conservation Lab. The museum's 248 acre site includes farming fields, industrial equipment display, tour road, Aviation Hangar, collection storage facility, and fly-in access to the Wetaskiwin Airport. The museum has many operating artifacts which can be seen at special events. Some are operational throughout the summer as part of a Vintage Vehicle Tour program. A private company operates a 1940 WACO open cockpit biplane which offers rides.Featured artifacts include:

a one-of-a-kind 1929 Duesenberg Phaeton Royale Model J

the world's oldest known production Chevrolet, a 1913 Chevrolet Classic Six

the world's oldest dragline, a Bucyrus Class-24 built in 1917

a 1928 American Eagle biplane,

a full-scale replica of the Avro Arrow

a half-track vehicle used in the infamous Bedaux Expedition, the subject of the film "Champagne Safari"The Museum also serves as home to Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame, a national organization paying tribute to the men, women and organizations who pioneered and advanced aviation in Canada.


A seedbed or seedling bed is the local soil environment in which seeds are planted. Often it comprises not only the soil but also a specially prepared cold frame, hotbed or raised bed used to grow the seedlings in a controlled environment into larger young plants before transplanting them into a garden or field. A seedling bed is used to increase the number of seeds that germinate.


Sowing is the process of planting. An area or object that has had seeds planted in it will be described as being sowed.


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