Early planting was done by hand. The seeds would be thrown, or broadcast. This system made it more difficult to weed and harvest the crop. Later a dibber was used for some crops. A dibber was a board with holes evenly spread apart. A stick would be pushed through the holes and then a seed would be placed in the hole made by the stick. This was very effective but also very tedious and time consuming.
The idea for dropping seeds through a tube first appeared in Mesopotamia about 1500 B. C. In 1701 Jethro Tull invented the first seed drill. The implement would cut small channels into the soil and the seed would be dropped into the channel. Before this time seeds were usually planted by a method known as broadcasting. Broadcasting is simply throwing seeds onto the ground. The seed drill had many advantages to the broadcasting system. First a much higher percentage of seed came to produce crops. Less seed was lost to birds or other animals. Finally, with rows, it was much easier for the farmer to weed his crop. Jethro Tull's invention was met with skepticism and not really appreciated or accepted till after his death in 1741. (14F)
|(Left: simple single row seed drill made by E. C. Fairchild. He claimed it could plant 6-10 acres a day)|
One of the next innovations was a two row seed drill. This was not automatic so the field would have to be marked and then the seeds released by pulling of a lever.
|To the left is a multiple row seed drill. It could be adjusted to the amount of seeds and at what intervals they were released into the soil. (Smithsonian American History Museum )|
|The modern day version of the seed drill is much larger and appears much more complicated. It uses air pressure to move the seeds through the tubes and into the soil. Yet, the basic principle is not much different then the original seed drill made by Tull.|