This machine is a seed drill, or seeder. The seed drill essentially gave farmers a faster and more efficient method to plant their fields, which would require copious amounts of labour if it were to be done by hand. Before the invention of the seed drill in 1700 by Jethro Tull, an agricultural pioneer, farmers would have to do just that, carrying their seed in a bag around their shoulder and walking up and down the field, throwing or broadcasting the seeds. This method was both tiring and wasteful of seed. The seed drill permitted the farmer to seed larger acreages than ever before plant seeds directly into the soil to increase productivity.

The seed drill consists of a box filled with seed. A wheel-driven rotating cylinder would funnel the seed out evenly through spouts attached to the box as the seed drill was drawn across the field. Saucer-shaped discs open a clean furrow into which the seed is deposited. Covering chains would follow and cover the seed to a uniform depth. The seed drill not only planted seeds at regular intervals but also planted them at the right depth and covered them with earth.

This particular seed drill is a McCormick-Deering model no. 3 Grain and Fertilizer Drill, a product of the International Harvester Company of Canada, based in Hamilton Ontario. These models were in production from 1912 to 1945, this particular model being manufactured in 1917. McCormick-Deering equipped the discs of their seed drills with a strong steel scraper which keeps the blade clean in clay-y soil. They also incorporated adjustable pressure springs that held the discs to their work but also allowed them to ride over roots and other obstructions. The seed drill pioneered modern seeding methods. It was a revolutionary tool in agriculture and was responsible for making farmer’s crop success rate expand exponentially.


Celebrating 150 Years of Canadian Agriculture

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