“For small scale farms there is no rival, the paper pot transplanter is hands down the most efficient way to get transplants in the ground.”
A “mechanical” transplanter has long been missing from the world of small scale farming.
While there are water wheel transplanters that do fit on compact tractors, these tools easily run $10,000+ and most require a tractor that many small farms are not interested in purchasing.
Transplanting is truly a bottleneck, made clear by the fact that any large scale farm planting row crops, requires a mechanical transplanter to be efficient.
The paper pot transplanter directly addresses that bottleneck by giving small scale farmers a relatively cheap and efficient way to get transplants into the ground.
Why Use the Paper Pot Transplanter?
For small scale farms, there is no rival.
The paper pot transplanter is hands down the most efficient way to get transplants in the ground.
There are few if any, annual crops being grown today by market farmers that aren’t being used somewhere, in the paperpot system. If you currently grow a crop and hand transplant it, the paper pot transplanter can likely save you time on that crop.
A Whole New Way to Transplant
The average small farm transplanters their crops with a crew bending over and slowly working their way down the row putting plugs into the ground by hand. It works, but it is labor-intensive and the work is hard on the laborer doing the work. For many farms, hand transplanint is one of the least favorite jobs on the farm.
The paper pot transplanter is a more employee and owner friendly way to transplant those same crops into the field.
Compared to hand transplanting only one person is needed to transplant bed after bed of transplants into the field. This worker can do their work standing up putting plants into the ground and exact and equal spacings while being 4-5x more time-efficient than hand transplanting.
Easy to Learn
The paper pot transplanter is non-motorized and non-mechanical making it easy to use and easy to learn.
As with any tool, there is a learning curve, and some crops are more difficult to transplant in paper pots than others. Getting your pulling technique right and learning how to prepare your beds to receive the paper chain pots will take some time to perfect coming easier to some than others. But suffice to say, with trial and error anyone can become an expert quickly, and easily.
A good point of reference here is learning to use a tool like a pinpoint seeder or even a walk-behind tractor or tilther – likely the first time you used it, you weren’t that good at it. The paperpot is no more difficult to learn than these indispensable small farm tools, and you will find it will quickly become just as ubiquitous on your farm.
“All it takes is a little math on the back of an envelope to realize the Paperpot can save you thousands a year.”
Compared to Paying Labor – The Paper Pot System is Affordable
While it is challenging to find a one-size-fits-all solution in the varied world of small scale farming, just about everyone grows in the ground, and just about everyone hand transplants.
That being said, how much do you and your employees cost the farm a year hand transplanting?
For many farms, labor is by far the largest expense each year.
Let’s do a little math using an example ¾ acre farm…
- Assume the farm has 220 beds that are 45’ x 30”.
- Assume each bed is transplanted by hand in 30 minutes, or 8 minutes with the paperpot.
- Assume the average wage is $12/hr.
220 beds x 3 successions: 660 beds/year
660 beds x .5hr hand transplant: 330/hrs x $12/hr = $3,960 in labor
660 beds x 8min paper pot: 88/hrs x $12/hr = $1,056 in labor
This is roughly a $3,000 savings in labor. Subtract the cost of the paper pots at roughly $1,000 and you are still saving over $2,000/yr.
There are many other factors that would favorably affect this math:
- Crops at a 2” or 4” spacing would take significantly longer by hand than 30 minutes
- If you value your work or pay your employees more than $12/hr the savings increase
- If you transplant any beds more than 3x per season
In general, as the cost of your labor goes up, the cost savings attained by using the paper pot transplanter goes up. If you have access to inexpensive labor, then you are likely better off transplanting.
Getting More From One Person
When you are hand transplanting one person can only transplant so much, so fast. That limit means that a certain percentage of a farmer’s time will be taken up by transplanting. That time can’t be used for anything else. If they can decrease that time, then they have the freedom to do other tasks.
Another advantage of the paper pot transplanter is that it allows one person to do the work of several people.
One person can transplant several beds very quickly by themselves. They won’t have a speed decrease due to fatigue compared to a single person transplanting bed after bed by hand. The worker can quickly transplant the beds and move on to their next task.
The paper pot transplanter is like having another employee on the farm allowing farms with a single operator to do more than they ever could without the tool.
The Worst Job on the Farm Becomes A Lot Easier
You easily spend 10-15 work hours a week transplanting on most farms around an acre in size. Most of this transplanting is typically done bending over. Week after week of this, season after season can take a toll on workers’ bodies.
With the paper pot transplanter, this essential part of farming is now no longer has to be hard on our bodies. You’ll be willing and able to tackle as many beds in a day as needed, even if it is 10 or more, without getting tired and without bending over.
Hidden Advantages of the Paper Pot System
While it’s easy to see the main advantage of the paper pot system is rapid transplanting, there are also other benefits that don’t typically become obvious until using the system.
One principal advantage to keep in mind is a significant reduction in greenhouse tray space and thus chore time. This is because each paper pot tray holds 264 transplants, while most farmers use 128 cell trays, or even 72 cell trays. On farms that convert from using these larger plug trays to paper pot trays the number of trays can be reduced by half or more, thereby saving you valuable greenhouse shelf space. This is especially advantageous during the early spring when you need to use a heated tunnel or indoor grow lights, as you can cut those heating/light bills significantly.
“No more stressing over getting those transplants in before the day really heats up.”
Another key benefit is, due to significantly reduced transplanting time, beds can be watered in much more quickly which reduces heat stress and the associated crop loss that it can cause. Since transplanting can be done quickly it also allows for more opportunities to get the job done during cooler parts of the day, again reducing transplant shock.
Is the Paper Pot System Right for You? Do the Math
Take a minute and see if the math works for your farm?
Think about how much you value your time, how stressed for time you are, how much transplanting your farm does, and what your current labor availability and labor rate is. All of these factors need to be accessed together to determine if the paper pot system is a viable system for your farm.
If you grow on half an acre or more, have one or more employees, or your back keeps going out on you halfway throughout the season, odds are the paper pot transplanter will fit right in your tool shed next to the other appropriate technology that’s been recently developed for small scale growers.
Learn more about the paper pot system here.
See how other growers are using the system by following us on Instagram @paperpotco.