[Market-farming] Air Seeder -Homemade

Dalew Farms dalew at phonenet.ca
Thu Mar 3 10:01:01 EST 2011

Yesterday, for the first time I used a home made air seeder in my greenhouse.  I'll try to share the details on how I made it in case thats helpful for anyone else!

First, if your not familiar with air seeders for starting in the greenhouse, here is a link so you can see what a "real" one looks and works like!  

First off, I"m using our shopvac to provide the suction.

I started by building a small box with 1x4 sides and a plywood bottom, just big enough to put the cell tray into.  I drilled a hole in one side big enough for a 1" plastic water line, installed a short piece of water line.  I sealed all the corners with caulking and where the water line comes in.  Then I used a piece of sheet metal that was laying around here, and cut it about 1" wider and longer than would be needed to cover the box I just built.  Bend the edges up, about 1/2".  I put a cell tray (I used a 288, but you could do whatever you need) and then used a marker to mark each hole onto the sheet metal.  (This was pretty tedious for a 288!) Then, I used a 5/64 drill bit to drill those 288 holes (pretty tedious also).  I inserted the sheet metal so that it was just inside the top of my wooden box, and used screws to fasten it there, and then put caulking around the edges of that also.  

Finally, put a tap into that short piece of 1" water line, and then whatever you need for an adapter to get you from the end of the shop vac hose into the tap.  (I used 1" line and a tap, because that was the size that worked with my shopvac and what I had around for materials - I have no idea if it would work better or worse with a smaller line/tap)  At this point, I tested my design by hooking it up to the shopvac, turning it on, and trying some old pelleted seeds to see if they would actually stick to the holes...they did!  To try to make it easy to explain the next part, I'll refer to this piece as the suction plate.

After that, I had to build a box to hold the cell trays properly, so that it was easy to place the suction plate with the seeds properly over the holes of the cell tray.  I just used 1x4 for sides again, over a plywood bottom, and built the width and length ever so slightly wider than the suction plate. I angled the length very slightly so the top was a tiny bit wider than the bottom, to make it easier to put the suction plate in.  Leave one side open, without a 1x4.  ( I left one of the widths open, because that's where I located my tap on the suction unit).   Then put some small chunks of 1" wood around the inside edges, to hold the suction plate up, and to hold the cell tray in the proper spot.  

It actually worked for me first try!  That doesn't happen very often on my projects! LOL  Hopefully, I haven't missed any important pieces in my description above so that others can do this as well if they want to.  

So far, I've used this on pelleted onoin seed, and I could seed a couple trays a minute, versus around 5 min to seed a tray by hand.  I found that there were usually 2 or 3 holes out of the 288 that would end up with 3 seeds instead of one - easy to fix by quickly touching with your finger while keeping the suction on, or I think I can live with 2 or 3 out of 288 being off, because I make more mistakes than that when seeding by hand!   I also tried it briefly last night with non pelleted onion seed, and as expected, it didn't work as well.  There were lots of doubles and triples stuck to the holes, and the odd seed would go right through the hole, or be stuck in it and not drop out.  I plan on building a second suction unit, and using a smaller drill bit to see if that will work better for un pelleted seeds.  Still, I am looking forward to using this for the season, as the majority of our greenhouse seeding is for cole crops, which should work well, and we use almost all pelleted lettuce seeds.  Who knows, maybe a smaller hole size will even work on tomatoes and peppers, but I'm not holding my breath on that!

It hardly cost me anything to build this, because we allready had a shop vac, and I used all materials that I had lying around anyways, lumber, 1" water line and taps I use for headers for drip irrigation anyways.  Time wise, it took me a long afternoon to build this, but this was my first shot at it, and I did lots of humming and hawing, second guessing etc before I actually put parts together, and a friend from the NFU called my cell during that time to so all those things slowed me down.  I expect/hope that I can build the next one a bit quicker!

Well, I'm off to use it some more and build that second suction plate now, to see if it will work better on non pelleted onions!!


Dalew Farms
Web: www.dalewfarms.ca
E-mail: dalew at phonenet.ca
Phone: (705)594-1823
Fax: (705)594-1834

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