Practical, affordable hand-planter

Without contributing to the yield, gaps in a crop row still get tilled, while the farmer pays for fertilizer, irrigation, weed and pest control, and soil treatment. With this in mind, Michris Janse van Rensburg, a young farmer from Bultfontein in South Africa’s Free State province, developed a light and easy-to-use all-metal handplanter. He called it the Backsaver since the planter operator doesn’t have to bend down, and its simple design has enabled
Janse van Rensburg to sell his device at a fraction of the price of similar machines on the market.
He explains that the secret is in the accurate placing of the seed at the optimum depth, and the planter’s ability
to select only one seed at a time. “Its seed tube can hold around three cups of maize seed at a time; enough for an hour’s planting. In damp soil, seeds are planted at the same depth for more uniform emergence.”
“Tests have shown that one operator can plant up to 0.4ha of maize in a day when planting at the 200-250mm spacing in the 1.5m rows that are common on small-scale dry land operations in Africa. This gives a plant population of 20,000 to 25,000 per hectare,” Janse van Rensburg adds.
“Germination and yields, even in no-till operations, have proved satisfactory and compare very favourably with the accepted ploughing rate with a couple of horses – about 0.4ha per day in Europe. With oxen in African conditions, the work rate would be much less.”

In addition to his success with smallscale farmers, Janse van Rensburg reports good sales to commercial farmers who use his planting tool to fill in the gaps sometimes left by tractor-drawn planters. He has sold over 100 units – which are produced in a workshop on his farm – and calculates that a maize farmer should ideally have one for every 200ha of maize. The Backsaver sells for R650 or around $74.25 (excl VAT) and according to Janse van Rensburg, pays for itself on the first day in labour costs alone.
Contact Michris Janse van Rensburg: Tel +27 (0)73 454 4111;; website: