When you are a “food plotter”, there is a long list of equipment that you need to have. You need “disc harrows”, a “seed spreader”, and something to pull your machinery around – usually a tractor or ATV. Once you have the basics, you can prepare the soil, spread seeds, and grow food from the ground.
Even then, it isn’t easy, especially if you’re trying to do it well. Fortunately, there are many optional tools you can use to get the job done. Of these, a “cultipacker” is one of the best you can get.
A cultipacker has large rollers that are ideal for preparing seed beds for a variety of seed types. They’re great for planting small-seeded crops, but can be used for large-seeded crops too, making them great for food plotters.
They make the seeding process much easier and they are available in multiple sizes and weight classes to cater to all kinds of seedbeds
What Is A Cultipacker?
Cultipackers are large iron rollers that roll over the soil after it has been disked. They usually have cleats or treads that really penetrate the ground and make the soil smooth. The textured surface of the iron roller gains traction over the ground and rolls the soil over itself, creating a smooth and even ground.
How Are Cultipackers Used?
As we said, a cultipacker is best used when planting small-seeded crops. Those are crops like alfalfa, brassicas, chicory, and clover, whose yields benefit from seed-to-soil contact over the whole food plot without burying seeds too deep.
Burying seeds too deep into the ground is a real danger when working with most species, which may not have the energy to reach the surface when they are germinating. That’s usually a quarter-inch deep, so try not to bury deeper than that.
It’s common for food plotters to cover over their small seeds with “ harrows”. However, this equipment has issues with over-burying small seeds. Harrowed soil also tends to have irregular surfaces full of holes and other pitfalls which, if a seed falls into, then they’ll be too deep to sprout properly.
Returning from that segue, a “cultipacker” helps you avoid the problems described above by smoothing the ground before broadcasting seeds. Then, once the seeds have been sown, you can cultipack again to embed the seeds into the smooth, firm soil without smothering them.
The firm ground even protects the buried seeds from other factors that could hamper their germination, like heavy rainfall. From there, germination is guaranteed for most of the seeds… or as close to guaranteed as anything can get in agriculture.
If your seedbeds suffer from inconsistent seed coverage, then a cultipacker can help you even out the spread.
Other Cultipacker Uses
The cultipacker isn’t just useful for those that need to plant small seeds or firm up their seedbeds. Cultipackers also work well with large-seeded crops, like popular cereal grains that every food plotter works with at some point in their career.
If you do use a cultipacker to prepare large seeds, you just need to disk the seedbed, broadcast the seeds, and then cultipack just once. Larger seeds are at less risk of being buried, so cultipacking the ground twice usually isn’t necessary.
Maybe you’re used to dragging a chain fence behind your tractor/ATV to prepare the beds for large seeds. That works fine but, with a cultipacker, you get a consistent downward pressure that works even better than makeshift fence dragging.
Many homemade draggers can push soil around, moving seeds resulting in inconsistent coverage.
Cultipackers aren’t just ideal for burying small-seeded crops, they can outperform makeshift draggers with large-seeded crops as well.
Heavy & Light Cultipackers
Being heavy iron rollers, cultipackers are typically available in tractor and ATV sizes. The larger tractor-sized variants are heavier and better at creating a consistent downward pressure than smaller ATV models.
The heavier ATV models are stand-alone cultipackers but they can be difficult to attach and detach for trailer loading because of their weight. Naturally, your ATV needs to be powerful to pull the cultipacker, especially if your seedbed has slopes on it.
There are also cultipacker combinations that can disk soil. These work by having both a cultipack roller and “disc gangs” that can be lowered when needed and raised when not. This allows plotters to use each roller independently or, if they so choose, at the same time.
These implements are lighter too, making attachment, detachment, and loading the tool easier. This comes with a tradeoff however, their lighter weight rendering these implements less effective at consistently smoothening seedbeds than the heavier rollers. Since the downward pressure isn’t as strong, the seeds aren’t packed as tightly as they typically would be.
If there are high spots on your seedbed, you may need something heavier to properly smooth it out. Before you decide to invest in a cultipacker – and which type – you should survey the land to see how flat or rugged the terrain is. For flatter terrain, lighter cultipackers can work just as well.
If you like what you’ve read, you should consider acquiring a cultipacker for seedbed preparation. Maybe you struggle with getting your small-seeded crops to germinate, in which case they are ideal for keeping the seeds close to the surface. With larger seeds, the same cultipacker will be able to bury them too, but you only need to use them once in those cases.