Plant population is the number of plants your farm can accommodate.

Through plant population, you can determine the number of seeds, suckers or other planting materials to use for your planting operation.

Now, many farmers have no idea how to do this. And as a result, they cannot determine the adequate number of plants, seeds, or planting materials to use on their farm.

In this post, we will walk you through it.

Here’s how you determine plant population on your farm

Plant population can be determined using several methods. But these three methods are commonly used:

  • The use of a plant population calculator
  • The study of plant population frequency by quadrat method
  • Use of plant population formula

These three methods can be used to determine the total number of plants on your farm.


Using a plant population calculator

Using a plant population calculator is the easiest method. The calculator is an automated device or program that has been designed to determine the total number of plants that will cover a portion of land by the aid of data provided by the farmer.

Such data are: land area, planting distance or spacing, and seed rate.

Once all the above are provided, the device automatically provides the number of plants that will accommodate the provided land area. The use of a plant population calculator is a pre-planting operation.


Using the quadrat method

The study of plant population frequency using quadrat is also easy, but because it is a random-based method, it does not provide an accurate answer. It only provides an approximate answer.

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A quadrat, usually a wooden, square-shaped material with equal dimensions, is placed on certain portions of the farm at random.

The plants found in the quadrat are counted and this process is repeated for 3 or more portions on the farm. The average of the result derived with respect to the dimension of the quadrat is recorded and equated to the total land size to get the actual plant population of the whole farm.

The study of plant population frequency using quadrat is a post-planting operation.


Using the plant population formula

The use of the plant population formula is the cheapest and most effective method.

It is the manual form of the plant population calculator. It also makes use of the same data as other methods.

These parameters must be accurate in order to get accurate answers.

The plant population formula is:

Planting Area X Seed rate (Number of Seeds or Planting material per hole)

Multiply the Planting Area by the Seed Rate and then, divide the product by the Spacing or Planting distance.

When you evaluate the above, you will be able to determine the number of plants on the farmland (i.e. plant population). Once this is achieved, it becomes easy to know the number of seeds or planting materials needed for the crop to be planted.

Then you can estimate the cost of seeds and planting material yourself.

For example: To get maize plant population per hectare or tomato plant population per hectare, do the following:

Firstly, you need to know the area of your farmland. This area is not the total area of your farmland but the planting area. In other words, it is the space you intend to let your plants occupy.

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This is always determined through mapping out.

Obviously, if you have a hectare of land, you cannot use 100% of the land for your planting. You will need some space for shade and other farm responsibilities. So determine the area you want your plants to occupy on the farmland, say 80-90% of the total farmland.

Another key parameter you need to aid your calculation is the spacing of your intended crop. Spacing is very important in crop production.

Spacing is the optimum feeding area or the most convenient area required by a particular plant to thrive well. Your crops need adequate space to garner all that is needed to facilitate their growth, such as nutrients, air and water.

Spacing varies with the type and nature of crops. The spacing for maize and tomato varies with the breed of the seeds and the seed rate, that is, the number of seeds per hole.

For maize, 75cm by 25cm is used if one seed is to be planted per hole. 75cm by 50cm is used if two seeds are to be planted per hole. And lastly, 75cm by 75cm is used if 3 seeds are to be planted per hole.

Likewise, the spacing for tomatoes varies from 60cm by 60cm or by 1m. So, determine the spacing you intend to adopt.

Lastly, you need to know the number of seeds you intend to plant per hole. This is called Seed Rate. This depends on the viability and survival rate of the seeds.

Some maize seeds are very viable and are planted in numbers of just one per hole. Ideally, planting 2 seeds per hole is better and safer.

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The same applies to tomatoes. Some tomato seeds are planted just one per hole using nursery trays. But in situ, planting 2-3 seeds per hole is better.

At times, you need to plant more than one seed per hole but later thin out some seedlings as they grow to accommodate the most vigorous and healthy ones.

With all these data determined, you can proceed to calculating the plant population or determining the number of seeds needed to adequately cultivate a specific planting area successfully using any of the aforementioned methods.

Maize planting population per hectare (10,000m) with a seed rate of one per hole, using the plant population formula, is approximately 53,333 plants, while that of the tomato per hectare (10,000m), using a spacing of 60cm by 60cm with two seeds per hole, is approximately 55,556 plants. Try it yourself to see how simple and easy it is.

NOTE: The unit of calculation here is metres. Convert the centimetres (cm) to metres (m). For maize, the spacing becomes 0.75m by 0.25m and for tomato, the spacing is 0.60m.