by Ned Stoller Ned Stoller

Hey, sometimes these still work!Most of us are already well on our way to getting ready for spring planting. Equipment is out, cleaned and greased, and just waiting for dry ground. One thing is for sure:  in the spring everyone, from the small family farm to the mega agribusiness, has to wait until conditions are right.


I know for me, one of the best things about spring is the many smells that fill the air. Fresh tilled dirt, early flowers, and for sure the smell of manure. (I always tell my kids that’s the ‘smell of money’ whenever we go by a farm spreading manure) It is all about rebirth and newness. Every year brings new opportunities and hopefully this year will be much better as far as rainfall goes. Certainly in the upper Midwest we have had enough. I just hope we didn’t use it all up without any for August!

I just got done talking to my dad, a retired dairy farmer. As a person who milked cows for decades without the benefit of a parlor, he certainly can relate to someone who has back problems. Some sort of system would have been great to be able to get sacks of seed up to the grain/fertilizer box. That handy step in the back is great, but it still comes down to lifting A LOT of 40-50 pound bags and holding them up while pouring in the contents.

Not a Very Big Step!

Lots to climb over!






Equally a pain in the neck is trying to clamber around the front of the drill to fill the seed boxes that usually are accessible from that direction. Usually this entails climbing up and over the hitch assembly – a perfect recipe for falling and hurting yourself.

So, you have to get the seed into the grain drill one way or another. Rather than trying to lift and climb, let’s look at some easy alternatives.

Augers work great if you have one or access to one. 

The tricky part is moving the auger so you can traverse the length of the seed or fertilizer box. This also be accomplished by fitting some sort of flexible chute to the end of the auger, and attaching a handle of some sort so you can stand below and guide the chute without having to climb up on the step. Make sure your flexible chute (feed bags sewn together could work, or some canvas) is small enough if you are trying to reach the small grass seed boxes up front. The drawback of the auger is you would have to drag it out with you into the field if you wanted to make it efficient, and you have to get the seed INTO the gravity  box. Another alternative is of course to use a small auger and a hopper at the bottom.

Another option could be something as simple as a pickup truck crane. These usually mount in the center of the bed or occasionally off the hitch or back frame. Most can handle several hundred, if not a thousand pounds. The pickup also has the benefit of carrying your seed as well!

Several options would be good to consider with a crane. First, just picking up a couple of bags and placing them on the top of the grain drill is a great back saver right off the bat. Use of some sort of mesh bag or similar will make it easier to carry the bags. Once they are up on the top of the seed box, you can cut a hole in one corner over the seed box to let out seed. Second, you could have some sort of container that you could dump seed into on the ground, or off the bed of your truck, then hoist it over the grain drill to fill the boxes.

There are many ways to avoid struggling with those seed bags. Try one of these to save your back and your energy!