The HISTORY of our radically improved all terrain patented seedling transplanter.

When I started planting trees in the 1980's, the majority of seedlings were pine. The planters available at that time, although okay for pine were far from perfect. In the early 1990's we began planting a larger percentage of hardwoods. The requirements for planting hardwoods are much more stringent than for pine. In lieu of the more stringent requirements, unless the soil conditions were perfect, it became impossible for us to plant hardwoods with the mechanical equipment available at that time. Hardwood seedlings have to be planted in a deep furrow (up to 20"). Pine seedlings require a shallower furrow of about 8". For hardwood seedlings, Forestry personnel require the land to be ripped to a depth of 18" to 20", prior to seedling placement.

After several years of attempting to use other treeplanters, it became painfully aware to us that we were spending more time working on the planter, than actually operating it. Various and sundry problems, such as cleaning mud, replacing opener shoes, closing wheel bearings, etc were the reasons for this. We tried rebuilding, retrofitting and modifying the planters we had at that time, all to no avail. Something different had to be done!

When ripping and planting with two separate passes, in too many instances the rip is not on the correct spacing. When this happens, either the seedling is not placed in the rip or the seedling spacing is off. We needed a machine that could rip the soil to the specifications of Forestry personnel specifications and plant seedlings in that rip with one pass with the same machine. This is the only way to assure exact placement and spacing of the seedlings directly into the ripped furrow. Although more horsepower and fuel are required, it is still more efficient than running two separate operations. By operating more efficiently we are able to pass some of this saving on to our clients, whether they are large timber companies or small family farms.

As you well know, "inventions' mother is named necessity". So the decision was made to build one from below the ground up, a complete and radically different design from other treeplanters on the market. All initial soil contact and ripping is done with a rolling effect. This was accomplished using two coulters diagonally opposed with approximately 3 degrees caster and approximately 1 degree camber in order to reduce friction between soil and soil opener and not leave a balk in the furrow where the seedling is placed. The soil had to be ripped and fractured with a rolling motion, rather than sliding and dragging, thus avoiding plugging of the furrow opener and furrow. Cleaning wipers had to be installed in such a manner as to wipe the rolling coulter blades, yet not get in the way of the planter operator, seedlings or any wise interfere with the operation of the planter.

The revolving 36” diameter, closing-discs are scalloped in order to facilitate rotation and are cone shaped and radically opposed so as to gather soil to pack around the seedlings in order to leave a firm seedling in the ground and assure that no air pockets are left around the seedling roots. The design of the closing wheels is such that the furrow is closed from the bottom of the seedling up. Most treeplanter closing wheels pack the soil from the top side, thus enhancing the probability of having air pockets around the seedling roots. A soil and mud dispersing wiper made of 1/8” thick by 1” formed carbon steel is affixed to the horizontal axle and formed around the conical edges of the discs.

With this planter we rip and fracture the ground to a depth of 20" prior to planting the seedlings. After fracturing the soil to a 4" width by 20" deep, we plant the seedling in the furrow then tightly pack the roots in order to get rid of air pockets around the roots. The design of most commercially available planters is such that the soil moisture content and ground preparation has to be ideal to get good survival on the seedlings. The design of this patent is such that it will plant as well in wet sticky mud as most other planters will in good conditions. We developed a planter that will plant in wet sharkey clay mud, heavy marsh grass, and in dry sand. This planter is designed to be adapted for towing behind any wheel or crawler tractor. If a tractor can go over the soil, we can plant it.

Over two years were spent attempting to obtain a patent for this seedling planter. With the new patent laws, it is much harder to obtain a patent than it has been in years past. It has been frustrating dealing with government officials, corresponding back and forth and so on, to say the least.

On January 17, 2008, I received notice from the USPTO that we had been granted Patent No. 7,322,302.


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