1902 Encyclopedia > Agriculture > Implements for Sowing. Manure Distributors.

(Part 22)


Implements for Sowing. Manure Distributors.

Implements for Sowing

A large portion of the grain annually sown in Great Britain is still distributed by hand form the primitive sowing-sheet.

"The sower stalks
With measured step, and liberal throws the grain
Into the faithful bosom of the ground."

In Scotland a decided preference is still given to broadcast sowing, for which purpose a machine is used that covers from 15 to 18 feet, according to the width of ridge adopted. It consists of long seed-box, carried on a frame mounted on two wheels. From these motion is communicated on two wheels, From these motion is communicated to a spindle which revolves in the seed-box, and expels the seed by means of cogs or brushes, through openings which can be graduated to suit the required rate of seeding. It is drawn by a single horse, is attended by one man, and can get over 30 acres a day. It is peculiarly adapted for the regular distribution of clover and grass seeds. Now the reaping by machinery has become so general, there is an obvious advantage in having the fields as level and with as few open forms as possible, and hence of having a marker attached to the sowing-machine, In one made by Sheriff at West Barns, by an in ingenious apparatus on the principle of the odometer, the machine itself is made to register the space which it travels over, and thus indicate the rate per acre at which it is distributing the sees. Excellent results have been, and still are, obtained from broadcast sowing. But as tillage becomes more perfect, there arises a demand for greater accuracy in the depth at which seeds are deposited in the soil, for greater precision in the rate and regularity of their distribution, and fore greater facilities for removing weeds from amongst the growing crop, These considerations led, at a comparatively early period, to the system of sowing crops in rows or drills, and hence the demand for machines to do this expeditiously and accurately. We accordingly find, in our best cultivated districts, the sowing and after-culture of the crops now conducted with a precision which reminds the spectator of the processes of some well-arranged factory. This is accomplished by means of a variety of frilling-machines, the most prominent of which we shall now notice.

The Suffolk drill is the kind in most general use. It is a complicated and costly machine by which manure and seeds can be simultaneously deposited. That called the "general purpose drill" can sow ten rows of corn, with or without manure, at any width between the rows from 4 _ to 10 inches, and at any rate per acre between two pecks and six bushels. It can be arranged also to sow clover and grass seeds, --- the heavier seeds of clover being thrown out by minute cups, --- and the lighter grass seeds brushed out from a separate compartment. It is further fitted for sowing beans and turnips --- the latter either two drills at a time on the ridge, or three on the flat. This drill, as most recently improved by Messrs Hornsby of Grantham and Garrett of Leiston, has an apparatus for preserving the machine in a level position when working on sloping ground. As a main object in frilling crops at all is to admit of the used of the hoe, it becomes an important point to accomplish the drilling with undeviating straightness, and exact parallelism in each successive course of the drill. This is now obtained by means of a fore-carriage, which an assistant walking alongside so controls by a lever as easily to keep the wheel in the same rut down which is had previously passes. Messrs Hornsby have also introduced India-rubber tubes for conducting the seed, in place of the tin funnels hitherto used. These drills cost about £42.

The Woburn frill of the Messrs Hensman is simpler in its construction than those already noticed. "In all other drills, the coulters, which distribute the manure or seed, hand from coulters, which are like the iron of skates; it may be said, indeed, to run on four pairs of skates. Hence this drill’s power of penetrating hard ground, and of giving a firm bed to the wheat-seed in soft ground. Each drill coulter, however preserves its independence as when suspended. This self-adjustment is required by the inequality of tilled ground, and is thus obtained; each pair of coulters is fixed to the end of a balance beam, these again to others, and they to a central one. Thus each coulter, in well-poised rank, gives its independent share of support. It varies from the generality of drills, as it is drawn from the centre by whipple-trees instead of shafts; and the drill-man behind can steer or direct the drill is entirely self-acting, and delivers the seed equally well going either up to down hill. It is also capable of horse-hoeing, by attaching hoes to the levers instead of the coulter-shares. It is drawn by a pair of horses, and the price from £18 to £20." [Footnote 321-1]

Turnip drill. ---- In Scotland, and in the north and west of England, turnips are usually sown on the ridge by a machine which sows tow rows at a time. In the south-eastern parts of England, which are hotter and drier, it is found better to sow them on the flat, for which purpose machines are constructed which sow rows together, depositing manure at the same time. Both kinds are adapted for sowing either turnips or mangold-wurzel seeds as required. With the view of economizing seed and manure, what are called drop-drills have recently been introduced, which deposit both --- not in continuous streams ---but in jets, at such intervals apart in the rows as the farmer useful machine is a water-drill invented by a Wiltshire farmer --- Mr. Chandler of Market Lavington. "His water-drill pours down each manure-coulter the requisite amount of fluid, mixed with powdered manure, and thus brings up the plant from a mere bed of dust,. Having used it largely during three years, I may testify to its excellence. Only last July, when my bailiff had ceased turnip sowing on account of the drought, by directing the use of the water-drill, I obtained from this latter sowing an earlier and a better show of young plants than from the former one with the dust-drill. Nor is there any increase of expense if water be within a moderate distance, for we do not use powder0manures alone. They must be mixed with ashes, that they may be diffused in the soil. Now, the expense and labour of supplying these ashes are equal to the cost of fetching mere water; and apart from any want of rain, it is found that this method of moist diffusion, dissolving, instead of mingling only, the super-phosphate, quickens its action even upon damp ground, and makes a little of it go further." [Footnote 321-1]

Manure Distributors

The practice of top-dressing wheat, vetches, clover, or meadows, with guano and various lights manures, has now so much increased, and the inconvenience of scattering them over the surface by hand is so great, that various machines have recently been invented for distributing them, which can also be used for sowing such manures over turnip drills, covering three at once. Such machines will probably be used in future for distributing lime, which can thus be done much more regularly than by cart and shovel, especially when it is wished to apply small quantities for the destruction of slugs or for other purposes. It seems quite practicable to have this or a similar machine so constructed as that it could be readily hooked on to the tail of a cart containing the lime or other substance which it is desired to distribute by it. The top-dressing material could by such an arrangement be drawn into the hopper of the distributor as it and its tender more along, and the cart when emptied be replaced by a full-one with little loss of time.

A cheap and effective machine, capable of being in a similar manner attached to a dung-cart, which could tear asunder fold-yard manure, and distribute it evenly in the bottoms of turnip drills, would be a great boon to farmer, and seems a fitting object to be aimed at by those possesses of the inventive faculty.


324-1 See Mr Pusey's Report on Implements, in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, vol. xii, p. 604.

324-2 Ibid., p. 607.

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