A Single-Row Mechanical Nut Planter for Nut and Hardwood Plantations

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2020: $8,892.00
Projected End Date: 07/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Green Hills LLC
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Zachary Alexander
Green Hills LLC


  • Nuts: hazelnuts, walnuts
  • Additional Plants: trees


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, forest farming, forestry, forest/woodlot management
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance

    Proposal summary:

    The establishment of tree plantations has proven to be an effective method of reclaiming marginal agricultural land and restoring impacted areas to environmental and economic productivity. Hardwood and nut tree plantations can provide producers with a long-term, stable investment and integrate well into agroforestry and silvopasture systems. Additionally, the social and environmental benefits of tree plantations include: increased plant diversity, improved habitat for wildlife, benefits to soil health, water quality improvements, carbon capture and potential opportunities for recreation and agritourism. 

    Designing and building a tractor-pulled, single-row nut planter will allow producers to plant nut and hardwood plantations from seed. The market currently lacks an affordable and accessible product to do so. Current practice is to plant tree plantations from nursery-grown seedlings, but the labor and capital costs are high. The benefit of growing plantations from seed is two-fold: 1.) the cost and labor involved in planting seed is lower than planting nursery-grown seedlings and 2.) seeds can be collected and planted from locally adapted stock. We hope that by reducing the labor and expense of planting hardwood and nut plantations, we can lower the barrier to entry for producers who wish to establish tree plantations on marginal or otherwise unproductive land.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our objectives are: 

    1. To design and build a single-row, tractor-driven planter that can handle a variety of hardwood nut species and sizes.
    2. To evaluate the performance of the equipment in the field 
    3. To evaluate the cost savings of establishing a plantation via direct-seeding versus planting seedlings. 
    4. Share the design and demonstrate the use of the planter to interested parties, namely local farming field days, Walnut Council meetings, and Wisconsin Woodland Owners meetings. 
    5. Long Term: Evaluate tree survivability and stand density of plantations established via seed vs. seedlings.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.