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close this bookBetter Farming Series 07 - Crop Farming (FAO - INADES, 1976, 29 p.)
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Choosing seed

In Booklet No. 3, pages 20 to 26, we dealt with seeds and sowing.
Reread these pages.

Seed must be carefully chosen; seed must be from good varieties, must be protected against disease, must be graded.

When to sow

When the soil is well prepared sowing can be done. In savanna country especially, sowing should be done at the beginning of the rainy season. In this way the plants will make full use of the rains.

· If you sow very early, the plants will grow up before they are hindered by weeds.

Sowing must be done at the right time.


Farmers have the habit of sowing in seed holes. The farmer makes a little hole with a stick or hoe, drops in several seeds and covers them with soil.

Some seed, such as rice, is sown broadcast; that is, it is thrown into the air, and falls all over the place.

Then a harrow is drawn to mix the seed with the soil.


But the seed falls anywhere.

Sometimes the plants are too close together and get in each other's way when growing.

Sometimes the plants are not close enough. They do not make full use of the soil. With broadcast sowing it is not possible to get the right density (see Booklet No. 1, page 26).

When you want to get rid of weeds, you walk on the young plants and often spoil them.

Sowing in rows

By sowing in rows you can:

· get rid of weeds more easily. The animal drawing the cultivator can walk between the rows. The work is done more quickly, and can be done more often.

· give each plant the same amount of fertilizer.

· apply water when possible.

It is better to sow in rows.

Sowing in rows

On sloping land, make the rows across the slope to stop erosion.

· As an example take groundnuts:

Leave 60 centimetres between rows. Leave 15 centimetres between seeds. This gives about 110 000 groundout plants to the hectare.

Sowing in rows by hand

When you sow or plant, make the lines quite straight.
Use a marker to make the lines.
This is a wooden bar with teeth. Each tooth marks a row.
To get the first row quite straight, stretch a string between two stakes. Then follow the string with the marker.

A marker

The distance between rows changes according to the size of the seed.

Put the seeds in the rows at the same distance apart and at the same depth (see Booklet No. 3, page 21 )

Cover the seeds with a little earth. Walk over the row to press down the earth.

Then the field will be sown at the right density (see Booklet No. 1, page 26).

· Certain plants such as cotton and millet are sown in seed holes.

Seed holes too must be made in rows.

By that means you can be sure of the right density, you can get rid of weeds and apply pesticides more easily.

To put the seeds at the same distance apart, you can use a spacing wheel.

The spacing wheel.

This can be made of wood or iron. Each tooth of the wheel makes a little hole in the soil. Put one or more seeds in each hole. Cover the seeds with a little earth, either with the hoe or your foot.

A spacing wheel

Sowing with animal power

The seed drill.

In several countries people are beginning to use the seed drill. This is drawn by a donkey or an ox. The seed drill makes furrows and the seeds fall into the furrow the same distance a,oart and at the same depth.

At the same time, the drill covers the seed and presses down the soil.

Seed drill