An automatic potato planter is a piece of farm machinery which is towed behind a tractor. It evenly distributes potato seeds into the soil in rows. Automatic potato planters make growing a large amount of potatoes an easy task. In terms of appearance, these wheeled machines consist of a large receptacle for the seed potatoes to be loaded into prior to their distribution. The seed drops out of the bottom of these to be planted via metal tubes which spread the seed potatoes to the required distribution. Automatic potato planters come in a variety of sizes. This is useful depending on the number of rows to be planted. Thus the minimum is one row, best used by those who have a small amount of land, or are not trying to create a wholesale potato business; up to over four rows, which are best suited to those who are supplying millions of potatoes each year.
The automatic potato planter is based upon a 19th century idea from British inventor Dan Albone. As with much agricultural machinery, Albone's idea benefited from the vast innovation during the Agricultural Revolution. Automatic potato planters first originated as manual planters, often known as "Bell Planters" which required two farmers sitting on the back to fill the potato seeds in the planting tubes each time a bell was sounded. These were originally hitched to a horse.
The main manufacturers of potato planters are well-known agricultural machinery manufacturers such as Gruse, Ransomes Faun, Hassia, Cramer and Underhaug.