OSU Hand Planter, Greenseeder hand planter for the developing world   OSU Hand Planter for the developing world


Nitrogen Use Efficiency, Nitrogen Fertilizers, NUE, Nitrogen and the Environment

Oklahoma State University

bill.raun@okstate.edu  or  randy.taylor@okstate.edu


OSU Hand Planter
ONE Minute Video

CSA News Hand Planter Article
Last update: October 21, 2016
PDF version of Article
you tube link to the OSU hand planter

Labor Savings Video (17 Mb)
938/1/05, 1065/1/19, 1185/1/29, 1343/2/12, 1599/3/1, 1798/3/14, 2227/4/5
Interview, Dr. Lisa Taylor and Peter Omara (Gulu University, Uganda) 12/15/2015
One Acre Fund
OSU Hand Planter OSU Pocket Sensor
OSU Hand Planter Manual

PLANTER User Manual  (Spanish)
Reports (various countries)
Planter Data/Results (+ seed weights)
Hand Planter Pictures, (Maize Landscape, El Salvador)
Developing World (1987, CIMMYT, legume interseeding)
Planter Design/Specifications
Internal Drum (seed and fertilizer) + seed sizes
Countries where the OSU Hand Planter is being used, (Pictures and Progress)
Power point presentations
(workshop data base)
Hand Planter Training, El Salvador, Dr. Edgar Ascencio
Hand Planter Training, El Salvador, Dr. Edgar Ascencio, April 2016
 OSU Hand Planter
Nitrogen Use Efficiency, Nitrogen Fertilizers, NUE, Nitrogen and the EnvironmentWorld Nitrogen Use Efficiency for Cereal Production is 33%, Agronomy Journal 91:357

Yield level and Nitrogen response are Independent (corn and wheat)  J. Prec. Agriculture 12:508-518
Journal Publications (OSU Hand Planter Team) + Posters
1. Effect of seed distribution and population on maize (Zea mays L.) grain yield. Int. Journal of Agron. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/125258
2. Hand planter for maize (Zea mays L.) in the developing world. J. Plant Nutr.
3. POSTER Development and Evaluation of a singulating Maize Hand Planter for Use in Developing Countries

4. POSTER  OSU Greenseeder Display
5. PPT Hand Planter for Emerging Countries

  OSU Hand Planters Around the World OSU Hand Planters, Around the World

OSU Hand Planter 2014   OSU Hand Planter 2014

Two newly developed OSU hand planters using plastic external housing
Nitrogen Use Efficiency, Nitrogen Fertilizers, NUE, Nitrogen and the EnvironmentGreenseeder hand planter increases maize grain yields using improved plant spacing and singulationGreenseeder Hand Planter

PDF HPThird World Hand Planter Brochure:  On this web site, we have included some basic information on maize area in the world and estimates of the total amount planted by hand.  The problem with maize planted in the third world (Sub Saharan Africa, Asia, Central and South America) is that they essentially use heavy sticks whereby 2-4 seeds are planted per hill (first picture below, and left), roughly 35 cm apart.  While incredibly inefficient, this method of planting is commonplace for third world maize farmers, largely dictated by terrain, circumstance, and resources.  If single seeds could be planted 14-17 cm apart, much like conventional planters accomplish in the developed world, production levels could easily increase 25%.  Despite the fact that third world maize yields are generally less than 2.0 Mg/ha (Dowswell et al., 1996), this 25% yield increase on 60% of the hand planted maize area in the third world would be worth more than 2.4 billion dollars/year (see calculations below).  OSU Hand Planter

We have developed a hand planter very similar in shape, size, and weight to the one seen in the first photograph on our web site, but that can reliably plant 1 seed, in various soil textures, moisture, and tillage systems.  Initially, development, production, and delivery would need to be subsidized, thus the need for grant funds.  But with time, local manufacture/industry creation of our new hand planter would also lead to more jobs.  Added benefits of the new hand planter would be to remove chemically treated seeds (organophosphates, carbamates, chlordanes, +others) from the hands of small farmers.  Decreased soil erosion from improved contour planting, and plant proximity will also be achieved. With time, we hope to modify the final prototype so as to accommodate mid season applications of urea fertilizer.  Placing urea fertilizer below the surface, really via any mechanism is critical for improved nitrogen use efficiency.

This tool by itself would offer an affordable, easily adoptable technology for virtually all third world maize farmers.  With modest funding for development and initial subsidized hand planters, this could provide widespread increases in third-world maize production that would rival most advances made in the last 50 years.

CIMMYT mega-environment database; C.R. Dowswell, R.L. Paliwal and R.P. Cantrell, Maize in the Third World, Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press, 1996.

"You cannot build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery"
Norman Borlaug Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 1970
Uganda, corn planting

OSU Hand Planter, Lira, Uganda, April 2014

OSU Hand Planter Manufacturing   Kenneth Burk Hand Planters Assembly

OSU HandPlanter Workshop
Hand Planter Cooperation
Assoumane Maiga, Mali Representative
Argemiro Moreno, Colombia Representative
CIMMYT - Africa
CENTA, CARE, El Salvador
Sierra Leone

Central America (all NARS)
IPNI, Togo project, Steve Phillips
IPNI, Armando Tasistro
Sierra Leone (Pat Bell)
NGO's (several)
Kristin Lacy
Regional Trials (proposal)
Lecture, Dr. Barbara Stoecker (April 9, 2014)
IMG_0901.MOV IMG_0903.MOV
Hand Planter Release in Cali, Colombia, February 5, 2013 
Hand Planters Shipped to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Thailand, April 29, 2013
OSU Hand Planter shipped to El Salvador OSU Hand Planter shipped to El Salvador FIRST Hand Planters Shipped to El Salvador
OSU Hand Planter OSU Hand Planter OSU Hand Planter OSU Hand Planter
  Support from

Background Data
Maize area, ha (FAOSTAT)
TOTAL 160,968,730 ha
Developing 34,409,010 ha
% Planted by hand (60%) 20,645,406 ha
Yield increase, (25%), Mg corn 10,322,703 Mg
      Avg yield of 2 Mg/ha
1 bu = $6.00
2204 lb/ton
56 lb/bu, 39.2 bu/ton
 = 10322703*39 bu/ton*6.00/bu 2,400,000,000 $
Average yield, 3rd world maize
 = 2 Mg/ha  



(1000 ha's)





North Africa



Western Africa



Central Africa

1 900


Eastern Africa



Southern Africa



Central America



South America










Source: CIMMYT mega-environment database; C.R. Dowswell, R.L. Paliwal and R.P. Cantrell, Maize in the Third World, Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press, 1996.


Adrian Koller
Eric Lam
Joshua Ringer

Peter Omara
Sulochana Dhital
Rajen Bajgain
Ethan Wyatt
Natasha Macnack
Jeremiah Mullock
Jacob Bushong
Bee Chim
Eric Miller
Candi Byani

Colton Sullivan
Jorge Rascon
Max Metcalf
Austin Childers
Wayne Kiner
Kyle Hiner
Jonathan Kelly
Kevin Waldschmidt

Ideas proposed in May, 2007.
Meetings:  Wednesday, 4:00 pm, Ag Engineering Shop

Energy Harvesting for Singulation (A. Koller and J. Rascon)
OSU Hand Planter Plan 2009

AGCO Hand Planter Demo Report
Added Materials

Back Pack Sprayers

www.crustbuster.com  (wobble slot)

Could these planters work using a protective rubber glove?  Yes, but, the problem is that producers will not wear the gloves because they rely on finger dexterity and sensing to feel individual seeds. At the end of the day they have imbibed chemicals via skin to chemical surface contact.



OSU is aware of these planters and that have been discussed.  The problem (demonstrated in the first video), is that they won’t wear the latex/rubber gloves.  In most parts of the world, it is hot and humid, at the time of “hand planting”.  As such, the human element of being able to singulate (using their fingers, and sensitivity in their fingers), relies on “not having gloves on.”  Are they (the producers) aware of the chemical contamination risks?  Some are.  So, because OSU is well aware, we think they need a hand planter makes that makes the decision for them.  Marv Stone showed us a patent from Dickey-John that was older, but that recognized each seed (counted them as they passed by x-sensor). 



Chinese farmers currently feed 20% of the global population using only 9% of the world’s arable land. Their traditional corn farming technique — involving planting two to three kernels of corn per mound of soil just to get one plant to grow — highlighted a need for a more efficient planting technology. While this technique may have improved the odds, it had a habit of creating high seed and labor costs. Which is why in 2002, DuPont Pioneer entered the China seed market with the goal of increasing yield by creating a high-quality seed that did not need to be planted at high rates. It wasn’t long, however, before Pioneer realized seed quality was only part of the equation. Farmers there needed to address overall planting and growing concerns to be truly successful.

33% of wasted corn plants could be saved with vacuum planting.

Quick Facts

33% of wasted corn plants could be saved with vacuum planting.

Planting better seeds, in a smarter way.

Pioneer partnered with Hebei Nonghaha Agricultural Machinery Group, a local equipment manufacturer, to jointly develop a vacuum planter — the first of its kind in the country — that would allow Chinese farmers to plant corn using only one seed per mound. Improved single kernel planting technology raises the productivity and efficiency of Pioneer’s corn, lowers the seed volume farmers need to purchase, reduces manual labor, and ensures more land can be used for other products, like grain, diversifying and increasing the area’s food production output.

So far, it’s working — single kernel planting is becoming a trend in China, and if the vacuum planter continues to be widely adopted, it’s estimated that 1/3 of corn plants wasted by the manual thinning process could be saved. Additionally, China could decrease its amount of seed production land, essentially growing more grain on less land, thanks to better seeding and farming. Farmer feedback is positive, as the program benefits farmers with lower costs, less labor, increased yields, and additional revenue. This collaborative project between Pioneer, Nonghaha, and the farmers of China won the 2008 DuPont Sustainable Growth Award, in recognition of their work revolutionizing the industry and allowing more of the country to be fed in a sustainable way.

Last update: October 21, 2016    
NEW Hand Planter Video, online 

Nitrogen Use Efficiency, Nitrogen Fertilizers, NUE, Nitrogen and the Environment