Using Your Implements: Plow and Disc

Contributed Article

Using Your Implements
Plow and Disc
by Curtis Von Fange

Introduction: Dad was raised during the depression years of the thirties. As a kid he worked part time on a farm in Kansas doing many of the manual chores. Some of the more successful farmers of that day had a new time saving device called a tractor. It increased the farm productivity and, in general, made life easier because more work could be done with this 'mechanical beast'. My dad dreamed that some day he would have his own tractor with every implement he could get. When he reached his early sixties, he got his dream.

The tractor he ended up purchasing was not a classic, it was a seventies model tractor loaded with attachments and implements. As time went on he kept increasing his inventory so he wouldn't have to do much of the hard physical labor he remembered as a young man. This article is to share some of those tools and procedures that will, hopefully, help the reader the save some sweat at the cost of a little fuel.

Plow and Disc:I think it was mom who wanted the garden, but was dad who got to prepare it. Fortunately, his plow and disc made the job more enjoyable. The plow was a single bottom with a three point hitch. Pull type plows are also available but are a little harder to find. They both have basic adjustments for setting the body of the plow level. The trick in cutting with a plow is to set the draft or hydraulic lift lever so it doesn't cut too deeply. This depth depends on the weight of the soil; whether or not it is loamy or claylike, has a heavy coat of sod or merely miscellaneous weeds in soil previously worked, and whether it is wet or dry. For the new gardener it is probably best to 'trial and error' your way through. Take a small pass with the plow taking a shallow bite at first and observe how the tractor responds to the load. By feeling the drag of the plow, hearing the engine loading, and watching the ease of the furrow, one can determine the depth and speed of the work to be done. One can keep the furrows relatively straight by sighting across the hood of the tractor, picking out a tree or fence post in the distance, and using it as a reference point. After the garden site is plowed remove the unit and install the disc. If it is a three point unit level it so it sits flat on the soil with very little tension on the top link. Disc up the plowed section keeping in line with the rows. Placing a few concrete blocks on the disc will help in up cutting heavier soil. The angle of the disc sections can be adjusted according to a shallow or deep cutting preference. The greater the angle, the greater the cut and the deeper and finer the end result will be. In loamy or sandy soils a shallower cut is desired as it reduces tractor load and fuel consumption in turning over already fine soils. Repeating the discing process over and over will reduce the coarse furrows to a fine granulated base ready for a garden. When the season is over take some steel wool and rub out any rust spots off of the plow cutting edge and the discs. A thin coating of grease won't run off during the winter and will protect the surfaces until the following year.

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