What's the Best Farm Equipment?

by Keith
(Western Kentucky, USA)

Last year my wife and I moved from a cramped city dwelling situation onto 12 acres and built our retirement home (retirement is 20+ years in the future). The land is mostly hilly and has about 9 acres in second growth woods. There are two old pond beds that were dry when we bought the place. The land that is clear had been left fallow for three years, but prior to that was a tobacco field for 20 years. We did not find any earthworms in the ground anywhere I tried to dig a garden spot, I say tried because the ground is heavily compacted medium clay loam.


So for the first couple years I am using and plan to use the same roto tiller for garden plots, and the same garden tractor / riding mower to maintain the areas that we are not using, to help keep weeds and unwanted pests at bay.

New to me and a strange tool to most people in my area is a bush Scythe. I bought it a few weeks after we moved here.

Also purchased at about the same time was a string trimmer with an optional blade attachment. I use these to open and maintain trails in the woods, and keep the roadside clear. The string trimmer has died, and will likely not be repaired nor replaced. A good Scythe, I have found, is more useful, and actually easier to use and maintain than the string trimmer.

Now lets talk about other ground working equipment, keeping in mind that I still work in the city to support us until we can make this place pay for itself, and support us with food.

Most people locally recommend getting a tractor, I do not want to loosen and airate the soil only to compact it back down by driving over it, and do not want the extra expense of fuel and maintenance to use one. Draft animals are out of consideration as there will not be enough use from them to justify the food and shelter they require.

What does that leave to work the ground with?? Human power is great in small areas, but the acreage is just too much to break with a shovel and fork.

Any Ideas for what equipment to transition to as we near our dream of self sufficiency?

MEG: CHICKENS AND PIGS ARE GREAT FOR WORKING THE SOIL! ADD HEAPS OF ORGANIC MATTER AS EITHER A GREEN MANURE CROP OR WASTE E.G. SPOILT HAY, HORSE MANURE, GRASS CLIPPINGS. PIGS CAN BE EASILY CONTROLLED WITH LIGHT ELECTRIC FENCING, CHICKENS WITH A "CHICKEN TRACTOR" MOVABLE CAGE.

Comments for What's the Best Farm Equipment?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Sep 01, 2011
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Limited options
by: Anonymous

Hi Keith, sorry to say this but you have probably run out of options if you don't want to get a small tractor. A roto tiller is OK up to a point but on clay soils it can create a hardpan at the depth that the tiller goes down to. You do need a tractor and something with tines that can get down a break up the hardpan and the clay. A small tractor is ideal as it won't compact the soil again (or as much). A garden tractor is pretty useless for breaking up clay soil. Once you have loosed and aerated the soil you should then not need to use the tractor every year, altough it could take a few years to get to this stage. I suggest that you pay a local farmer or contractor to do the heavy work for you and then use the roto tiller to prepare the soil for sowing and to work in cover crops.
Well done with using the scythe, it is an acquired skill that you have obviously mastered.


Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Permaculture Forum.