LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Marvin BalzerGrain drill

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Farm Collector occasionally prints answers to readers' questions when information is available from knowledgeable sources.

Letter from the June 2004 issue of Farm Collector:

I would like to find out information about this grain drill. I've looked at the library and on the Internet, but I can't find any information.

It was probably made in the 1930s and was pulled by a horse or mule. International Harvester Co. made it, but the only numbers I can find are the part numbers, nothing else.

I'd like to find out how old it is, how many were made and how much it might be worth. I farmed in the late 1940s and 1950s, but this drill is before my time.

- Sam Pylypczuk Jr. 3103 N. Prospect St. Colorado Springs, CO 80907 (719)633-4055

Answers:

The grain drill published in the June 2004 issue, owned by Sam Pylypczuk jr., appears to be what was commonly called the 'three-row drill.' The interesting thing is that it was a form of 'no till' farming used long before the term was coined.

Farmers typically rotate crops each year to reduce the exhaustion of certain minerals and nutrients in the soil that occurs with repetitive planting of the same crop. The three-row drill allowed the farmer to plant three rows of grain such as oats or wheat in between the rows of recently harvested cotton without plowing the soil. This saved time and work for the farmer. Cotton harvesting was usually complete by about the end of October, and grain had to be planted before the end of November, so there was little time to prepare a seed bed by plowing and discing when only horses and mules were available for this work.

Using a three-row drill, with properly spaced cotton rows, the grain could be planted on time. The dry, dead cotton stalks were chopped into small pieces of debris with a 'stalk chopper,' either before or after planting the grain. The placement of the grain rows was basically the same as when the ground was plowed or disced and sowed with a standard grain drill. The minor disadvantage was the ground would not be very smooth when harvesting the grain. An important advantage was the reduction of erosion, as in today's no till. The three-row drill was heavy for a single mule or horse to pull, and typically two mules or horses were used.

My father used a three-row drill and a log stalk chopper until he purchased a tractor in 1949. How farming has changed!

- Morgan D. Adams 8845 Campground Road Clermont, GA 30527 (770) 983-3940

- Marvin Balzer 2504 N. 12th Road Worden, MT 59088 (406) 967-2680

Quest for the missing 'link'

I'm looking for someone who might have information on the E.M. Link Machinery Co. engine. From the old advertisement, it is probably steam powered and from about 1893.

- David J. Link 8466 Lybbert Drive N.E. Moses Lake, WA 98837-1405

 'Sharp' subscribers needed

I recently purchased this old flat-belt-driven sharpener. I can't find any information on this machine. I have found that many subscribers are quite sharp and knowledgeable about machines like this, and I need their help.

The only information I have is the sharpener was built about 1909, and it was made by Black Diamond Saw and Machine Works in Natick, Mass. It's a well-built machine. Thank you for any help or information.

- William Rogers 17 Independence Lane Hannacroix, NY 12087