Team Planting on the Farm with the Paperpot Transplanter

In this blog series, we’ll be taking a few Paperpot Transplanter tips to make transplanting easier from farmer and Paperpot Co. Content Creator, Seth Davis. 

Seth has farmed on many different climates in many different contexts all across the US and Canada from Tennessee to California to Kelowna, BC, from heavy clay to sandy soils. Because of that, he has picked up a few Paperpot Transplanting tricks along the way. 

Make Transplanting Easier

If you’ve ever used a Paperpot Transplanter, you know that using it is always a balance act between looking where you’re going and looking back on where you’ve been.

While pulling the machine, you’re simultaneously (1) making sure that the paper chains are getting buried correctly, (2) that there aren’t any tears, (3) that the machine isn’t getting clogged, and (4) that you haven’t run out of paper chains. 

But if you’ve got a crew on the farm, then you might want to try your hand at team planting.

What is Team Planting with the Paperpot Transplanter?

Team planting is a two-person approach to quickly and efficiently transplant using the Paperpot Transplanter. It was developed by farmer John Hofer at Wise Earth Farm in Kelowna, BC.

This approach splits up the responsibilities of running the Paperpot Transplanter, and in effect, makes it twice as fast. Person 1 (the Operator) primarily focuses on pulling the transplanter through the bed, while Person 2 (the Feeder) walks behind and monitors everything else—making sure the machine isn’t getting clogged, ensuring the paper chains are going in properly, that there aren’t any tears in the chains, and keeping count of blanks (cells where there was failed germination).  

The Feeder is also in charge of swapping out trays once the transplants have run out, which is another task that takes time when working with the Paperpot transplanter alone. 

Another aspect of the team planting approach is that it also boosts the crew’s morale. While there are some people who prefer to work alone, many people enjoy doing team-based tasks, and the teamwork involved in this transplanting approach makes the task not only a lot faster, but also more enjoyable.

How to Do Team Planting with the Paperpot Transplanter

  1. The Operator positions the transplanter at the beginning of the row. 
  2. The Feeder starts the chain, pulls it through the transplanter and into the chute, and holds it in place. This eliminates the need to use landscape pins, which many growers use when working alone with the transplanter. 
  3. While the Operator walks down the row, the Feeder checks for blanks (empty cells where germination failed) and keeps a mental tally of how many they see. 
  4. Once they reach the end of the row, the Feeder communicates the number of blanks to the Operator, tears off the appropriate number of cells corresponding to the number of blanks, and leaves the paper chain at the end of the row. 
  5. After all rows have been planted, both the Operator and the Feeder work together to fill in the gaps before moving on to the next bed. 
  6. In case of a tray running out of transplants in the middle of a row, the Feeder breaks off to fetch another tray, ready to replace the old one as soon as it runs out. 
  7. Another task the Feeder is able to help with is starting a new row. When starting a new row with the Paperpot Transplanter, the first couple feet of the paper chain will often not get planted as deeply as the rest. This is due to the plow under the transplanter not being able to reach its full depth as it makes its way from the compacted path down into the loosened soil at the front of the bed. If the Feeder puts their weight down on the transplanter (just above the plow) and pushes down as the Operator begins to pull, this can help solve this problem.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this two-person method of transplanting worked especially well at Wise Earth Farm. If you think it might work for your context, then it’s definitely worth giving it a shot! 

Further Reading

Farmer and Paperpot Co. Content Creator Seth Davis has shared three interesting hacks that make using the Paperpot Transplanter easier—all of which have worked for him. If you ever decide to try one (or all) of these hacks, let us know about it! We’d love to hear from you. 

If you’ve got some Paperpot Transplanter hacks of your own, we’d love for you to share it with us!

Interested in purchasing a Paperpot Transplanter?  Click here

Relevant Links

Tips for Transplanting Crops Early | 3 Hacks for the Paperpot Transplanter | The Science of Crop Breeding (FSFS220)

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