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Old plough.jpg

Equipment and Supplies

This section will be different for many people. It's given as one concrete example. I don't like the practice of not giving any examples at all claiming that there are too many possibilities and it wouldn't be fair to show one example and not another.

Seed Solutions in New Zealand use to have a modern professional list of equipment on their website. I've also posted a link to a Monsanto presentation paper showing automated seed processing equipment and modern field plot equipment in slides 6 and 7 but this document has been relocated several times.

I'm very interested in knowing what people with limited resources and funds might be using or any ideas regarding alternative low-budget methods or equipment.

Use of 2 row, self propelled, ethanol consuming motors? I've seen some pictures. Draft animals? Digging sticks? I've seen pictures of hand planted fields in which a rope was used to mark the ranges but I don't know what the procedure was. Garden tractors?
Is possession of a computer a global phenomena? What are some paper and pencil/pen methods? How far can you eliminate paperwork and record keeping? Use of bulk methods in Barley and Triticale breeding can eliminate a lot of paperwork and is more efficient for cereal breeding according to published papers.

Regional differences need to be mentioned too. Some people refer to Corn/Maize as requiring irrigation as a necessity but in my area, the rainfall is quite adequate so I don't need irrigation equipment.In some areas, a plough is not considered a necessity and a disk is adequate.In other areas, the corn might be intercropped with a second crop such as climbing pole beans, so any cultivation would be done manually. Another area might be using a no-till philosophy. Maybe there are no tractors in the region and all tillage and planting is done manually as a community activity. Maybe one's environmental conditions are such that one can dry cobs outside somehow or maybe the cobs dry well enough on the stalk. I've seen piles of corn on the ground in some areas, husks braided and hung from ceiling rafters, corncribs of various types from slatted wooden fencing to large wire and board frames. In Canada, there are communities that, for religious reasons, don't use electricity or gas powered machinery. They might have some ideas/methods worth knowing.

Maize Innovation in Rwanda - Use of Oxen to Plough field [1]

PLSC 726 Plant Breeding course: Breeding Supplies/Equipment [2]

This website has some very nice pictures of equipment for the breeding of wheat.

Weather Station

  • Minimum-Maximum Thermometer and magnet for moving mercury back to start at end of each day
  • Rain Gauge

    Minimum-Maximum Thermometer

Rain Gauge

Field Equipment

  • Tractor - Medium size (95 hp) John Deere tractor with cab. (7410??)
(a John Deere 1830 tractor worked ok but had no cab)
  • Large CIL heavy cultivator with wide shovels and spray tank
  • heavy spiral packers
  • Grain Moisture Meter , [3], [4]
  • Small four row cultivator with narrow shovels
  • small light 14 ft. disc harrow
  • heavy A frame disc harrow
  • straight harrows (not often used)
  • plough (rarely used but Yield Trials producing large amounts of residue)
  • Kinze 4 row, 30 in. corn plot planter with cones, buckets, electric indexer, 2 seats behind the cones and a higher platform with a seat.The planter also has 2 dry fertilizer hoppers in the front. Sprockets of various tooth numbers for changing the plot length.
  • Hand Planters (recommend having at least 4)
  • aluminum shovel to fill planter fertilizer boxes from back of a pickup
  • Large 56 ft. field sprayer
  • Tractor boom sprayer (mounted underneath tractor) and 2 sidemounted tanks
  • Hand sprayer(s)
  • 1/2 ton pickups
  • diesel fuel barrel in back of 1 pickup
  • gas tanks for combine
  • power washer recommended
  • hoes
  • metal files for sharpening the hoes
  • K2 Gleaner combine with plot work modifications
  • 3 row corn head for the combine
  • field mower or chain flail
  • several large white stakes 3–4 ft. (2x2?)
  • 2 disc range marker (3 foot separation between discs)
  • 2 grain wagons (v shaped with side spout)
  • small 8 ft. Grain Drill for wheat, barley, triticale etc.
  • Belt seeder (home-made planter for head rows of cereals)
  • John Deere 4 row, 36 in. planter (modified with 2 seats at rear for plot work)
  • Boom sprayer (mounted underneath tractor) and 2 tanks in front
  • Homemade seed treater
  • Homemade spiked tooth thresher (for Barley, Triticale and Beans)
  • Home-made winnowing fan
  • Home-made Drying cupboard


  • 50 ft. - 100 ft. measuring tape [5]
  • Small hammer/sledgehammer for pounding the large white stakes into the ground
  • Maize hand planters (at least 4)
  • triangular hoes
  • chopping hoes ("m" shape)[find uncopyrighted pic like red hoe here [6], [7]
  • metal file for sharpening hoes
  • pollination work aprons
  • a small paring knife for cutting silks if necessary
  • Staple guns/pliers ( need to be durable and closed to dust/pollen to prevent jamming - easy to repair in field is necessary)
  • sharp clipper (scissors type-Garden Shears,or a grain sickle
  • Storage shed

Maize Planter

Draw hoe with Triangular Blade

Rented Field Equipment

  • Electrical generator and Vacuum for cleaning out drill between plots
  • Broadcast Urea pellet spreader primarily for Maize Yield Trials (owned by fertilizer company)
  • Roto-tiller attachment and small tractor for tilling around seed production fields
  • Some occasional herbicide/pesticide/desiccation spraying and seed plot harvest work

Field Supplies

  • strong elastics to hold sets of stakes together
  • Large White Stakes (2 in.x 2 in. x 4 ft.) (6 stakes painted white for helping make straight rows)
  • Small wooden stakes (1 in. x 12 in. x 1/4 in. with a pointed end for the last 1/2 in.) painted white if budget permits - need several hundred
  • small spiral bound notebook (preferably with a plastic waterproof covering)
  • black china markers
  • Tassel bags (Lawson Bags #402)
  • Earshoot/Shoot Bags/Ear bags (Lawson Bags #218) possibly need a second earbag size for exceptionally long corn ears
  • a dozen boxes of 1/4 in. staples
  • a dozen boxes of 3/8 in. staples
  • heavy construction paper strips (8.5 in. x 1 in.) for row tags in several colours
  • marker flags (a stiff wire with a coloured plastic square flag (Could be biodegradeable plastic)
  • Portable shed (if needed) with rented electrical generator and light

to do second moisture test in. Could also be done in Workroom if close or on tailgate of a pickup.

  • A portable toilet/outhouse with toilet paper and hand sanitizer at remote field locations is nice.


Regular maintenance is a must.
Also, use the winter months to prepare all equipment for the spring. Check all equipment, change all filters and make necessary repairs.

Office Equipment

  • Desk
  • Comfortable desk chair
  • Telephone
    Answering Machine
  • Fax/Copier
    Stand alone photocopier/flatbed scanner (if budget permits)
  • Computer
    Pentium(R) Computer or better
  • Computer Software
    Spreadsheet with Macro capability
    Plant Breeding Software if possible
    MSTAT (Michigan State Statistical Analysis Software)(???)
  • File cabinet (Legal folder size,banana boxes worked)
  • Heavy duty 2 hole punch
  • Desktop stapler
  • staple remover (blade types can be helpful in untying hard knots in the work room)
  • scissors
  • transparent tape dispenser

Office Supplies

  • Basic office supplies
  • Permanent ink markers, Highlighters
  • Correction fluid/liquid paper/white-out/correction tape
  • Labels (3” - 4” x 1” for #2 and #6 envelopes and for most of the other envelopes and tags etc.)
  • Pressboard/Presstex notebook covers (Landscape, 11 in. x 8.5 in.) with binding on left side
  • Acco metal 2 hole bindings (square u shapes and long pieces with 2 sliders)
  • Notebook tabs/indices
  • Self-adhesive reinforcements (for pages with rips to the holes)
  • 2-hole paper punch (large and strong)
  • 1-hole paper punch
  • Filing supplies
legal size folders (consider using a colour system)
  • Self-stick removable note pads
  • Tape: transparent and Masking
  • Glue

Workroom Equipment

  • sturdy and wide counters or tables
  • 2-4 shoebox corners and pencils/pointers
  • small electronic balance (weighs up to a few kg and has piece counting feature)
  • larger scale (weighs up to about 100 kg for weighing bulk seed)
can be an electronic scale or another type such as a spring scale
  • small metal pans with sharp 90 degree corners to make pouring seed easy (about 9 in. x 9 in.) - Pans with a funnel on one side appear to exist. See YouTube video below and find out who makes them.
  • homemade seed treater and spray bottle (rarely used)
  • Self-Advancing stamper (could use label maker or computer and label sheets)
(Stamper should have settings for advancing numbers automatically after a set number of stampings) See the Reiner Numbering Machine without Textplate video below.
  • staplers (Desktop type in office and plier type for pollination work)
  • large brown corrugated cardboard planting trays with white cardboard insert trays
  • plastic planting trays for electric indexer
  • permanent ink black markers
  • index card sized post-it notes
  • masking tape for marking plastic trays
  • Dickey-John moisture tester (A GAC II moisture tester was used)
  • Handheld moisture tester
  • Two tables and/or plywood sheeting
  • plastic mesh bags (large, medium small)
  • plastic woven bags or burlap/jute bags (100 lb. size)
  • paper bags of various sizes for storage of seed
  • plastic pails of various sizes for bulk storage of seed
  • china markers (black)
  • tassel bags (Lawson $402)
  • earshoot bags (Lawson #218 but too small for some varieties)
  • Long ruler or meter stick
  • Counter type grain moisture tester (Dickey John/Gac etc.)
  • Handheld grain moisture tester
  • large brown cardboard trays (10 small white cardboard trays fit inside)
  • small white precut and creased, stiff cardboard trays stapled at ends (fits #3 coin envelopes (63 mm x 108 mm or 2.5 in. x 4.25 in.)
  • Empty orange juice bottles that fit into the small white cardboard trays and keep the envelopes from falling (or anything else that will do the same thing)
  • Small red mesh bags
  • medium sized mesh bags
  • large mesh bags
  • forceps/tweezers for pollination work with beans and cereals
  • consider getting eye glasses or goggles that magnify the view for pollination work
  • cob sheller (tubular pvc type or hand cranked sheller with wire mesh bottomed tray)
  • receptacle for shelled cobs and undesired seed (E.g. large garbage can)
  • vacuum and mesh covered cup for removing grain dust and chaff from cereal samples
  • winnowing fan and homemade thresher in separate well ventilated area
  • A device exists that allows one to fill several envelopes at once with seed

it would be nice to have for yield trial work with several replicates

  • Metal or wooden framed seed sizing pans, slotted and circular holes for sorting maize into sizes and kernel types

The closest match I have found is a cardboard Beer Tray made by Busy Bee Packaging. The only difference appears to be that 2 staples rather than just one were used to staple each end tab to the sides. It is a brown, pre-cut, pre-creased, single corrugation cardboard/fibreboard. The cuts in the template may have been parallel to the long side rather than the short side. Before stapling, the creases should be folded flat into the box so they will make the proper right angle with the bottom when stapled. The tabs were stapled on the outside of the box so as not to decrease the room available inside the box. Usually, 3/8 inch staples were used. Also, if the tabs are along the wide front, the short sides will be smooth and tabs will not catch on each other when sliding a box out on a shelf. The sides of the tray are several centimeters higher than the smaller white vault boxes/trays. Ten of the small white trays sit in the large brown cardboard tray. The white trays are very similar to vault boxes and have a glossy/smooth white exterior and a grayish unprocessed looking interior or other side. Before folding these boxes and stapling them, one should use a heavy object to make the creases sharp so the boxes have sharp 90 degree corners. Use 1/4 inch staples. I haven't placed accurate dimensions on my diagrams partly because I don't remember what they were but also because the coin envelope size used is no longer available and I don't know if number 3 coin envelopes are the same width and height. The envelopes should fit in the white trays and be flush with the top of the sides of the white vault boxes. It might be possible to use vault boxes that are 1/2 or 3/4 the height of the coin envelopes. For the larger numberl 6 envelopes, a smaller brown carboard tray was made that fit 2 columns of envelopes and the envelopes were separated into columns by the insertion of cardboard rectangles/sides between them that were about half or 3/4 the height of the envelopes.

Template for large brown cardboard tray

Envelopes used for planting

Template for small white trays/vault boxes

Plastic tray for Electric Indexer

Workroom Supplies

  • Number 3 coin envelopes, 24 lb. brown Kraft Coin Envelopes for the maize/corn inbreds
width: 2-1/2 in.x Length: 4-1/4" in. (63 mm x 108 mm)
#2 coin envelopes seem to have been discontinued

A picture of a coin envelope sold by ULINE shipping specialists

  • Number 6 (#6) coin envelopes (for the beans) (24#, white wove, Width x Length = 3-3/8 in. x 6 in.)
  • Envelopes larger than #6 or small paper bags (for the Sib Nursery seed)
  • Ink pads and ink for stamper
  • 1/4 in. staples to make trays
  • Staples (1/4 in.)( a half dozen boxes for desktop stapler and field staple guns/pliers)
  • vinyl coated paperclips
  • Sharpie black permanent ink markers (fine and thick points,small and large sizes)
  • packaging tape/3M tear by hand packaging tape
  • Packaging tape dispenser (if budget permits)
  • Mailing boxes (if budget permits)
  • Small tags with string for indoor pollination work with beans (sold as price tags)
  • small glassine bags for pollination work with cereals
  • plastic pots (various sizes)
  • small plastic coloured identification stakes
  • 3 ft. training rods and ribbons to tie plant to rod
  • soil mix (1/3 each component)
sterilized and fumigated topsoil
peat moss
Numerous other soilmix recipes are available including soiless mixes and hydroponic media and methods

Cereal and Bean Pollinations

Small Grains and Beans Pollination Kit Equipment

  • Forceps or tweezers
  • small, sharp scissors
  • magnifying glasses (wearable glasses type) or large plastic fresnel lens to magnify view (desirable)
  • case of some kind to put pollination tools and supplies in

Small Grains and Beans Pollination Kit Supplies

  • small paper merchandise tags with strings
  • glassine bags (Cereals)
  • pens
  • black permanent ink marker
  • alcohol (to sterilize equipment between pollinations)

Miscellaneous videos and illustrations of equipment and supplies

Reiner Numbering Machine without Textplate [8]

An excellent video showing a hand operated annular corn sheller and a funicular pan. [9]

A YouTube video showing the operation of a hand cranked maize sheller. [10] This sheller can be attached to an end or side of a table with the kernels and cob caught in a rectangular tray with a wire screen bottom.

A YouTube video showing a Wintersteiger plot combine harvesting two rows of a plot. [11]

SeedBuro Equipment Company online catalogue images: corn husking peg, hand corn shellers, corn sheller [12]

eNasco Corn Husking Peg [13]

eNasco Corn Testing Products: Bell Corn Sheller, Husking Peg, Hand Corn Sheller, Seedburo Corn Sieve Set [14]

Hand-Cranked Rotary Winnowing Machine

Manufacturers and suppliers

Pollination Supplies

Midco Enterprises


Lawson Bags




Seed Research Equipment Solutions

Wintersteiger AG