How to Plant with Two Row Planters

For more ambitious gardening projects, a tractor and planters may be needed. Using these pieces of equipment makes the job faster, easier, and more accurate, and should yield good results. Here are the basic steps, illustrated using some 50 year old Burch 2-row planters.


  1. Image titled Plant with Two Row Planters Step 1
    Keep your equipment in good working order. The tractor needs regular maintenance to keep it working properly, and the planters, although simpler, also have moving parts that need attention periodically.
  2. Image titled Plant with Two Row Planters Step 2
    Purchase your seeds. For large garden projects, buying from a seed store, or even a catalog seed company which sells seeds in bulk (by the ounce, pound, or even bushel) is far cheaper than buying prepackaged seed at a big box store.
  3. Image titled Plant with Two Row Planters Step 3
    Chose a specific plant variety that is acclimated to your growing region and conditions, and suits your taste. You should determine the amount of seed you need by the linear feet of rows you intend to plant, and the proprietor of the seed store can help with this.
  4. Image titled Plant with Two Row Planters Step 4
    Prepare the soil for planting. The soil may need to be subsoiled or bottom-plowed, but in most cases, simply harrowing with a disc-harrow will loosen the soil and turn any plant material into it, leaving a smooth, clean soil bed for cultivating.
  5. Image titled Plant with Two Row Planters Step 5
    Select the plates you will need to plant with. Different crops have different sized seed, and these seeds are planted at different spacing, so the proper plates are needed to insure successful planting. The crop being planted in the illustrations is English (Sweet) Peas, and they are spaced 12 inch (1.3 cm) apart. This means the planter plates (the device that lifts the seeds from the seed box to the planting chute) will have a large number of notches. These notches fill with the seed, then, as the drive chain turns the plates, they are deposited in the feed tube, which drops them into the furrow.
  6. Image titled Plant with Two Row Planters Step 6
    Place your seeds in the seed boxes (the hoppers that hold them until the plates dispense them into the furrows). On two row planters, you should divide the seeds equally between the two seed boxes so each will continue planting until the seed runs out.
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    Test the seed placement spacing after you install the correct plates. Simply raise the planter assembly with the three point hitch so the packing wheels clear the ground, and rotate these by hand. When the packing wheels turn, the drive chain will rotate the seed plates, and you can count how many seeds are dropped during each revolution, then divide this number by the circumference of the packing wheel. This will give you your seed spacing.
  8. Image titled Plant with Two Row Planters Step 8
    Align your tractor on the rows you are going to plant. For the first pair of rows, you may want to establish a marker so the rows are laid out straight, but you may be able to use the edge of your garden patch or field to accomplish this.
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    Drop the planters to the correct depth for the row openers and de-clutch your tractor. As you begin to move, the packing wheels will turn the seed plates, and planting has begun.
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    Stop after the first few feet to make sure each of the row openers are at the same depth, and that they are covering the seeds correctly. Three point hitch assemblies have an adjustable link to raise or lower one side of the lift, so that even on ground that isn't level, the implement can be operated parallel to the ground.
  11. Image titled Plant with Two Row Planters Step 11
    Run your tractor at a modest uniform speed. This will insure the mechanism does not lurch or bind up, and the seeds do not bounce out of the notches in the plates.
  12. Image titled Plant with Two Row Planters Step 12
    Lift the planters up with the three point lift before turning around at the end of the row. After turning the tractor around, realign your front wheel in the center of the rear wheel track you made while planting the first two rows. If your tractor wheel width is correctly set for your row width, this will maintain the correct space between the alternating rows as you plant two more alongside them. Normal row spacing is 36 inches (91.4 cm) center to center, and so, tractor wheel centers should be set 72 inches (182.9 cm) apart.
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    Continue planting until you are finished, checking occasionally to ensure the row openers are clear, there are seeds left in the seed box, and the chains and plates are operating freely and smoothly.
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    Clean the seed boxes out and lubricate the drive chains when the planting operation is complete. Now may be a good time start thinking about fertilization, weed control, and pest control, while you await the first green sprouts to emerge.


  • Disc the soil until it is as smooth and loose as possible prior to planting.
  • Plow under any vegetation in your garden plot so that the vegetation has time to decompose prior to planting. This material can clog up the row openers during planting if it is not sufficiently decomposed.
  • Talk to experienced local gardeners about their plant choices, planting schedules, and specific techniques for each type of plant.
  • Make sure there is sufficient soil moisture to germinate and sustain the emerging plants before planting.


  • Avoid breathing dust from seed that may be chemically treated to resist insects or diseases.
  • Operating a tractor can be dangerous, so use caution or have experienced guidance when you are starting out.

Things You'll Need

  • Tractor with planters
  • Seeds

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