Commercially available no-till vegetable transplanters are usually equipped with a coulter to cut through residue. The RJ transplanter, manufactured in Canada, is a typical example. It has a spring-loaded 20-inch, turbo-fluted coulter, followed by a double-disk opener and a shoe with a kicker mechanism to place the transplants in the soil. Angled steel press wheels push the soil firmly around the plant. The transplanter provides a uniform planting depth and there is no loose soil after closing the trench with the press wheels.
Some soils in the Southeast are prone to compaction not only due to equipment traffic but also due to natural soil consolidation. There are no commercially available subsoilers that attach to no-till vegetable planters. Transplanters can be modified by adding a subframe between the toolbar (with a mounted plastic tank for water/startup fertilizer) and the transplanter (Figure 9.16a). The subframe is able to accommodate both commercially available subsoiling shanks as well as custom shanks. The shank disrupts compacted soil to a depth of 12–16 inches beneath heavy residue. Two driving wheels (one wheel on each side of the transplant row) replaced the original single drive wheel at the center of the row. This improves stability and helps minimize recompaction of the soil opening created by the shank. No-till transplanting of tomato plants into previously rolled/crimped rye is shown in Figure 9.16b.
The modified transplanter also includes a custom bracket, mounted to the subframe (Figure 9.17); it is used to attach row cleaners behind the fluted coulter. This helps eliminate residue accumulation on the transplanter. The row cleaners are especially necessary when thick cover crop residue is not rolled and lodges in different directions.