When we talk about farming equipment, one of the most important pieces of traditional machinery that is used to cultivate the land is the disc harrow. This device is a vital piece of equipment because it breaks up plowed ground on uncultivated land using its heavy frame that consists of sharp teeth or upright disks. The disc harrow is suitable for shallow cultivation and nurturing the soil for planting operations.
The disc harrow is also beneficial for chopping up unwanted weeds or crops that have been left over from previous plantings, such as cornstalks. This ground level device primarily breaks up the clod, chops up the packed or heavy clay soil of recently plowed fields to process the earth and destroy weeds that will interfere with new plantings.
According to Wikipedia, disk harrow prior to the industrial revolution and the invention of the modern tractor, disc harrows were horse, mule or oxen driven and in some places by manual labourers. They typically consisted of two sections. These cultivators were often adjustable so that the discs could be changed from their offset position. Straightening of the discs allowed for easier transport without ripping up the ground and not as difficult to pull.
Today’s disc harrows are tractor driven and hydraulics are used for raising and lowering them. It comes equipped with a series of sharp metal disks on one or more axles with sharp, revolving circular blades that are used to break up the soil for sowing. Some of the larger disc harrows are equipped with side sections that permit the discs to be raised up vertically. This advancement in design allows for easier road transportation or storage of this versatile tool.
Even though there is a downside to the disc harrow because they take more horse power to pull per foot width compared to a field cultivator, “Disc harrow sales have remained steady or higher than field cultivator sales, which I think would surprise many people,” says David Benson, product marketing manager with Krause.
Here are two other types of harrows that are currently being used in agriculture.
The chain harrow is the perfect attachment for lighter work such as smoothing garden soil or dragging gravel driveways. It consists of dozens of metal teeth that are set up to pull and grab the soil or grade surfaces. Chain harrows can be used on the pasture to level the tilth, cover seed, spread out dung and break-up thatch material.
A chain harrow is also versatile for use in sport-ground maintenance to level off the ground from indentations and after heavy use. It is commonly used on baseball diamonds. Not only do chain harrows loosen packed soil and break up chunks of fertilizer, they aerate and lift matter off the ground. When used in combination with other types of harrows, chain harrowing turns over larger soil clumps to the surface so that weather can break them down and seed germination can take hold.
The roller harrow is used for flattening land and breaking up large clumps of soil after ploughing in preparation for seed planting. It is commonly used following a spring harrow. The advantage of the roller harrow is that flatter land helps in controlling weed growth throughout the pasture and this in turn makes harvesting easier.
It can also help to reduce the loss of moisture from the soil that has been cultivated. When the roller is used on grassland, the rolling levels the land and compresses the soil so that it’s compact. Rollers can be weighted in different ways. Some are used with a pull-type single basket for lighter finishing touches while others may consist of one or more cylinders for heavier use. A thinner steel roller cylinder can be filled with water, which can be drained out for easy transport.