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A Guide for Choosing the Optimal Planting Unit

One of the most common questions we get is: “How do I know which planter to choose?

One of the most common questions we get is: “How do I know which planter to choose? 

With the number of models and options available, the choice isn’t always easy. There are a number of things to consider. By asking these questions you’ll be on your way to making the most optimal choice of planter.

Are you working in wet, semi-arid, or arid conditions?

Wet conditions require different machinery from conditions that are dry. Usually, the division goes along the north to south dimensions. But relying solely on this can be misleading, since you may need to plant in very wet conditions in the south. Also, even in established nordic conditions – where planting is usually done by mounding the soil – planting certain trees (like pine) could benefit from deeper subsoiling usually done in drier climates.

Does the terrain contain many rocks?

Rocky terrain presents a number of unique challenges that will direct machine selection toward ripping or working with an open bucket. Very rocky terrain usually excludes the use of mounding and pitting applications, because the top-soil is thin or non-existent.

What is the depth of subsoiling?

We can also use the cracking depth to guide our choice. Soil cultivation in wet conditions – where the topsoil is inverted above the ground – call for a mounding planter. Subsoiling to 40cm in mineral soils can benefit from pitting. For very deep subsoiling – to crack hardpans in tropical areas, or to cultivate areas that have been compacted by centuries of grazing – you would choose a ripper or bucket.

Is the soil mostly clay, mineral soil, or peat?

Finally, soil content can help determine which machine works best in your conditions. For areas with clay content subsoils, you can use a bucket to move mineral topsoil to the planting spot. Mineral soils will favor a pitting planter, while peat soils that don’t require much subsoiling could benefit from a rake.

Interactions between factors

There are a number of interactions between these factors that may illuminate the choice of machine. Have a look at the table below for tool choice:

Some Examples from Around the Globe

Existing configurations from our existing partners around the globe can also help narrow the choice:

  • Germany – SKB with a rake, because they need to do little soil cultivation but need to clean the spot from twigs and other residues before planting. 
  • Indonesia – A disc-ripper for deep subsoiling to break tropical hardpans and to create a mound for planting,  unlocking nutrients, and creating the best micro-climate for the seedling.
  • Finland, Sweden, the Baltic states, and Russia – Mounding is the norm due to the wet and peaty conditions.
  • Iberian peninsula, France – Open bucket, due to the rocky terrain and terracing needs.
  • China, Australia, Chile – Pitting for mineral soils.
  • Chile – Fork, for moving slash and subsoiling.

Concluding Thoughts

These guidelines are just a starting point. 

For scenarios where you want to test different options, we can provide interchangeable tools – like a ripper, rake, and bucket for the SKB model

This guida also assumes that you haven’t yet invested in a base machine. If you already own an excavator, backhoe loader, or harvester – and want to use that carrier in your operations – then it will affect the choice of machine.