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Looking for a grain drill.

 
S Haze
Posts: 227
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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duck forest garden trees woodworking
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Hello folks!

Here in the midwest I'm up against millions of acres of mono-cropped corn and soybeans that could and should be farmed the permaculture way. I've decided that order to expedite my quest to heal the landscape while earning a healthy profit using polycultures, perennials, interseeding, and alley cropping I could really use some iron!

Does anyone know of a good model smaller sized grain drill or where I could come across one? I'm looking for something anywhere between 5 and about 15 feet wide and adjustable/ versatile enough to easily handle varying seed sizes, planting depth, and row spacing. Ideally it could be pulled by a small 25 horse tractor but I could use a larger one if needed. I have access to a good shop and can do modifications like sizing down a larger drill if necessary but I don't want to spend a lot of time on it. I'm willing to spend maybe up to around $5k give or take but of course less is much better!

Any guidance here would be extremely valuable to me since I don't seem be a good at internet searches. Maybe if I knew a specific make or model that someone else has had success with it would help.

A million thanks to anyone who can help me get a drill sooner!
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Some places the extension service or NRCS have really reasonable rental rates--good deal if you only want to do it once for establishment.

You will be hard pressed to find a no-till drill in that price range. The ag-duty ones start around 10K and go up from there. You can find a few made for food plots (only built for 20 acres a year or less and not that accurate) for less, but still not quite in your range.

Look here (not endorsing this source, just one with pictures and prices) http://www.beavervalleysupply.com/sectionb/kascoseed.htm

You can find small old drills in kansas or missouri and pay for transport for less--but they would be for tilled ground only. They are not heavy enough to plant into existing sod.

You can probably find good old plate planters (they have different plates for different seed sizes) and set it up to do most of what you want and double trip if you need closer rows. Plate planters will plant almost anything bigger than clover. You can make them plant clover, but it is easier to convert the insecticide boxes to small seeds. You can still buy new plates, including blanks and dremel your own if you can't find something that fits.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Here is a link to what I was talking about for using insecticide boxes for clover:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&cad=rja&ved=0CDUQFjAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fstore.extension.iastate.edu%2FProduct%2Fcrp21-pdf&ei=Bl4GU_bYCuGSyAHgvYCgAw&usg=AFQjCNHojYNLDp-s3PZcgyxbA4KWqJcbxA&sig2=q0V7KoiiJmIW_1fqxwqsLg&bvm=bv.61725948,d.aWc

You can piece together a pretty decent no-till planter for under 5K, you should be able to find lots of 4-6 row Deere 7000 conservations locally. You plant radish or turnip or beans in the row units, and set the insecticide boxes for clovers. You can use the fertilizer boxes for grains if you want, too. You probably are not pulling that with 25hp, though.
 
J D Horn
Posts: 155
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Note this is not an endorsement - I have only watched the video and read the specs so I have no idea how well this thing trials out. Check out this product from Belco. Its not a seed drill but it may fit the need.



http://br-equipment.com/products/Greenscape-Conservation-Seeder.htm

http://www.iowalivingroadway.com/Greenscape.aspx

I have never used one but when I saw the video on it I thought it would be useful in a permaculture operation for pasture rehab, alley cropping, etc.

New ones are a little above your range. http://www.carverequipment.com/greenscape-conservation-seeders.php


Other discussion of the issue:
http://www.cattletoday.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=62951
 
Paul Ewing
Posts: 127
Location: Boyd, Texas
3
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Depending on what you want to put in you can do a lot with an old John Deere FB-B drill. You can pick them up for $300-$500 at auctions. They can plant shallow into a coastal Bermuda pasture and work even better if you run a disc over the ground first to break it up a bit. Another better option is to look for an old Pasture Dream which was a precursor to the fancy no till drills. I got mine for $200 and use it to plant clover into established pastures.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Make sure the drill has the small seed box if you want to plant clover or alfalfa.
 
S Haze
Posts: 227
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
11
duck forest garden trees woodworking
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Thanks for all the ideas so far!

I spent some time searching ebay today which was more productive thanks to your comments. I'll keep looking tomorrow.

The ability to do no-till isn't critical to me since I'll probably be working on tilled ground for this particular application. I do have a large scale no-till drill I can use too it's just a hassle to plant any less than about 5-10 bags of seed at a time because it's so big. And it won't fit very well around the homestead or for the experimental stuff I'd like to do larger scale.

The soil here is so heavy (and eager to grow stuff) that it's my impression that no-till wont work so well unless your going to spray a bunch of herbicide on it. Maybe a much slower succession type of system would work.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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A few examples a little closer:

http://desmoines.craigslist.org/grd/4302162949.html

http://desmoines.craigslist.org/grd/4316488868.html

 
S Haze
Posts: 227
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
11
duck forest garden trees woodworking
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JD Horn:

Wow! that looks nice! maybe I'll be lucky enough to find a used one! With some good reviews from real people I'd even consider buying a new one but I'd need to do some more planning to see if the expense would be justified.
 
Ian Petrie
Posts: 15
Location: Tuffnell, SK. Zone 3B
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I've used a Haybuster Drill to seed clover, wheat, corn and a mix of pasture seeds, and it's worked great. It's a ground drive too, which helps save on hp. Not sure if a 25 hp would do to pull it though. New they're listed for up to 20 000, but used I've seen them for 6 000 with some fixing to do. Renting is always a good option too, especially when establishing permanent(-ish) plantings like living mulchs, etc. If there's someone who sells pasture seed around where you're at, they'd probably know where to find a small no till drill for rent.
But, a part of me wonders if an old 15 ft. grain drill with sharpened discs and refitted with higher tension springs wouldn't do just as good of a job with the grains. That and a cheap broadcaster for grass and clovers/vetches/alfalfa would cover all bases nicely probably.
If where you're at, with a lot of conventional farming going on is anything like where I am, most farmers will have lots of old equipment that is still in good shape that they don't use anymore. As farms get bigger, folks just park the old stuff out back and let it sit, since there's no market for smaller equipment anymore. Still in fine working condition. Just talking to farmers, asking a couple guys about small drills or broadcasters they might have could lead you to some deals. I've found a lot of great stuff by just getting the word out that I'm a crazy person who actually wants the "old junk" out back. Got three 10ft cultivators last fall for a handle of whiskey. That's turning into a keyline plow and spare metal for other projects this spring. Talking to neighbouring farmers is always a better deal then craigslist or kijiji. Good luck!
 
S Haze
Posts: 227
Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
11
duck forest garden trees woodworking
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Well, I've done it!

Picked up a new Woods model. For now at least and probably the first time in my life I have a little more money than time so I opted for something that didn't need any tinkering with. It just meters seed from two boxes in front of or behind a roller with spikes on it followed by a culti-packer. There is also a disc in the front with adjustable pitch to change the aggressiveness of surface tillage. Maybe I'll re-build an old drill later if I need one with disc openers. The price was right ($6500, not too much over the initial budget!) less than what others were asking but I had to drive to Illinois to pick it up.

The drill is designed mostly to seed wildlife food plots so I'm hoping it works nicely to grow food for domesticated animals living as close to wild as I can get them. I tried it out today seeding some oats in the pasture where the chickens and waterfowl were over-wintered. My tractor is really too small for this drill but if I can shorten the 3 point arms a little it should help until I can switch to a slightly larger model. I'm planning on building a few other implements including a harrow (should be easy already bought some teeth) and a yeomans-like plow. Anyone know if there plans available for that one? From what I've gathered, there's something pretty special about the shape of the point and the overall geometry, but maybe not.

Thanks so much to everyone who responded, you really helped me get the search underway! I'll be sure to report back about how it works. I think I already have one custom seeding job and I'll be able to put it on a bigger tractor from the farm.

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