Methods of Planting Potatoes

With the exception of small plots and gardens, almost all potatoes are planted by machine. The picker-type planter and the assisted feed planter are two types most commonly used. Planters are generally equipped with fertilizer attachments which deposit the fertilizer on each side of the seed. The picker-type planter automatically picks up the seed and plants it in a trench or furrow. This is accomplished by a number of arms that are attached to a revolving wheel. Each picker arm consists of two sharp prongs, the ends of which are similar to nails. The picker arms pick up the seed pieces as they revolve through the chamber or compartment containing the seed. A steady supply of seed, the flow of which can be regulated, is deposited in the seed chamber from the main hopper that is located above the chamber. As the picking arm moves toward the downward position, the seed piece is deposited in the dropping tube and it falls into a trench that has been opened by a furrow opener. The seed is then covered by disks located at the back of the machine. Only one man is required to operate a single-row planter of this type and planting can be done more rapidly than with the assisted feed planter. Planting is usually not quite so accurate, however, and there is more danger of spreading disease from one seed to another by the prongs.

The assisted feed type or two-man planter handles the seed in an entirely different manner. The seed piece is fed from the hopper by a revolving cogged wheel into the pocket of a rotating horizontal disk. After the seed piece is pushed over the seed tube opening, it drops into the trench. This type of planter requires an additional man whose responsibility is to check that there is always one seed piece in each pocket. The planter is practically 100 percent accurate, provided the operator is alert and checks the machine carefully.