A paperpot transplanter. Talk about an appropriate technology for small farmers! The basic premise is that seeds are started in the greenhouse in trays that are made of a special paper. The paper is a lot like paper grocery bags or very thin cardboard. Once the plants are up to field size, the tray gets placed in the transplanter, shown in the photo above. The trays are designed in such a way that as the transplanter moves through the soil, the trays unravel in a chain and get seated (plants and all) in the soil.
This photo is a great illustration of the difference in body posture when hand transplanting versus utilizing the paper pot. With our field conditions, we're finding that the technology still requires 2 crew members: 1 to pull the transplanter and 1 to fix plants that are either buried too deep or not deep enough. We typically hand transplant a bed with 3 crew members. The paper pot transplanter is reducing the task by 1 crew member, cutting the task time in half overall and making backs happy!
Like any technology, there are drawbacks, but we feel like the benefits far out weigh the costs for our farm. We hope that as our soil continues to improve, we'll realize even faster and more accurate transplanting. But for now, we're thrilled with this Japanese invention. We've taken the "paperpot plunge," we've "tasted the cool aide," and dang it tastes good!