How To Set Your Grain Drill

How To Set Your Grain Drill

by Robert Lamm of Freeport, IL

Mr. Lynn Miller,

Several times in the past few years, I have seen ads in farm papers asking information on different makes of grain drills as to how to set the amount of seed sowed per acre.

I sent them copies of the chart enclosed, a fine chart showing any make drill. Maybe you would have use for it.

I am 93 years old and have seen grain drills come into use and out again three times. I have now sold all of my antique machinery and am living in town.

I had 12 horsepowers at one time, from one or two horse to 12 horse. I had a 12 horse Case threshing outfit, IHC Baler, drag saw, 20 person merry-go-round, buzz saw, grist mill, grain elevator, a two-horse treadmill and small thresher, hand fed.

I have had 30 years of horsepowers, the machine that changes the horse’s power to tumbling rod, or belt power.

If you are interested in the powers, paperwork, pictures and what I learned about them, let me know and I will send them to you.

Thank you,
Robert Lamm
Freeport, Illinois

P.S. I don’t see much about horsepowers in the Journal, I wonder why?

Dear Robert, Thank you for sharing this very useful seed drill information. Yes we are excited in what you have to share about horsepowers. As to why you don’t see information in this publication on horsepowers; we just haven’t been able to find any. Thank you for sharing. LRM

How To Set Your Grain Drill


Department of Agricultural Engineering
University of Illinois College of Agriculture, 1946

Since the rate of seeding any oats with a grain drill will vary considerably with the degree of cleanness of the oats, the most satisfactory method of determining an accurate drill setting for any particular lot of seed is by a calibration test. To make this test, raise and block up one side of the drill so that the wheel on that side will turn freely. The seed dropped by a certain number of revolutions of the wheel should be collected in cans, paper sacks, or on a canvas spread beneath all drill tubes. The table shows the number of wheel revolutions for various drill widths and wheel diameters to cover 1/10 acre.

Set the drill at what you think may be the correct position, and then check the setting. With the drill filled with seed, turn the wheel the required number of revolutions to cover 1/10 acre, as shown in the table for your particular wheel diameter and drill width. The total weight of seed dropped in this test should be 3.2 pounds for the desired Clinton oats seeding of 32 pounds per acre. In drills in which one-half the width is operated by each wheel, the amount of seed dropped by one-half should be collected and weighed. This weight must be multiplied by two, and the total should then equal 3.2 pounds for this test. Several tests may be necessary to find the proper setting.

Tests were made with Clinton oats on two drills available in the laboratory. It was found that with a VanBrunt tractor drill with 46-inch wheels and 7- inch tube spacing, the proper setting to seed 32 pounds per acre was notch 9. For a horse-drawn Superior Drill with 48-inch wheels and eight tubes spaced 8 inches apart, the setting for this rate of seeding was found to be notch 7 when the No. 1 openings were used.