planter, farm or garden implement that places propagating material such as seeds or seedlings into the ground, usually in rows. Broadcasting, i.e., scattering seed in all directions, by hand followed by harrowing (see harrow) to cover the seed with soil was an early method of planting. Mechanical planters for small grains appeared in the United States around 1800; corn and cotton planters followed (1840–1880). Machines are currently available for almost every crop, including transplanting or plant-setting machines, which place live seedlings into the soil at spaced intervals, supply them with water and fertilizer, then close and pack the soil around them.
See H. P. Smith, Farm Machinery and Equipment (5th ed. 1964); C. Culpin, Farm Machinery (8th ed. 1969).