Land preparation is the essential and the costliest operation in farming; the cost of getting tools and equipment used in land preparation accounts for about 30 percent of the total cost of cultivation. Land preparation involves surface clearing, soil opening with deep tillage equipment, moving soil from high to low spots, making farm roads, and leveling .etc. These operations require use of self-propelled and heavy land preparation tools such as crawler tractors with heavy duty ploughs and dozers, high horsepower tractors with dozing arid hoeing attachment, scrapers, ditchers, chisel ploughs, subsoilers, terracers, levelers etc.
Land preparation has changed from a manual to a power-assisted activity over the centuries, depending on the availability of different energy sources. Currently, tractors provide a major power source for tillage that allows many different variations. Manual and animal-assisted tillage is still practiced though, Various activities are associated with land preparation to pave way for planting on the field. The kind of operation to adopt depends on the vegetation present on the field.
The tillage operations, defined as mechanical manipulation of soil, are performed to achieve the desired seedbed to provide optimum environment for seed germination and plant growth using various farm tools used in land preparation. Seedbed preparation for sowing of different crops is done through primary and secondary tillage operations. Mould board plough, disc plough, soil stirring plough, ridger plough, tool frames/carriers with mouldboard plough or tillage sweeps, etc. are improved land preparation tools
designed for breaking soil. Ploughs are used to break soil and invert furrow slice to control weeds, etc.
List Of Farm Tools Used In Land Preparation
While land preparation is a major preplanting activity, it requires some tools and equipment to carryout the varieties of operation embedded in it. The following are tools and equipment used in land preparation.
This is a secondary tillage tool. This machine in most cases is equipped with rotary motion. The primary function of the cultivator is to remove the weeds or pulverize and stir the soil prior to planting to aerate the soil and prepare a smooth, loose seedbed. Similarly, the cultivator can be used after the crop has begun growing to kill the surrounding weeds by uprooting them, burying their leaves to decay and disrupt their photosynthesis, or a combination of both.
Unlike a harrow, which disturbs the entire surface of the soil, the cultivator is designed to disturb the soil in careful patterns, sparing the crop plants but disrupting the weeds. Cultivators of the toothed type look similar in form to chisel plows, but their functions are different. Cultivator teeth operate near the surface, mainly for weed control, whereas chisel plow shanks function is to break up the hardpan on the soil surface.
The plough one of the important farm tools used in land preparation; it is a primary tillage tool. The function of the plough is to loosen the soil by breaking the hard pan, to prepare it for sowing. Traditionally, draft animals such as donkey, horse, camel, etc. usually power the plough by pulling on the soil surface; in modern times, the plough is pulled by a tractor.
The plough can be made of different materials, the types of construction may also be different, but the main part is the blade that cuts into the soil and loosens it. The plough operates by turning over the uppermost soil, so bringing fresh nutrients to the surface, while burying weeds and crop remains to decay. Trenches made by the plough during operation are called furrows. Plough also perform a very shallow plowing which introduce crop residues into the soil; these residues that are incorporated into the soil serve as a source of energy for soil microorganisms. Introducing the crop residues back to the soil enables a summer rainfall to penetrate deeper into the soil, improving the soil’s moisture.
#3. Disc plough
The disc plough is a type of plough designed to work in all types of soil but preferably more suitable for land with much fibrous growth of weeds for its basic functions such as soil breaking, soil raising, soil turning and soil mixing. By default, the size of the disc is 60 cm in diameter. The disc plough works well in soils free from stones; it is used open the new fields and to process the stony areas. it can be used easily at rocky and rooted areas.
#3. Mouldboard plough
mouldboard plough is made up of the body, mouldboard or wing, share, landside, connecting, rod, bracket and handle. The mouldboard plough is commonly used where even inversion or complete pulverization of the soil is necessary; it inverts the soil, bury the water repellent topsoil and brings a layer of subsoil to the surface. It plows to a depth of 25 to 30 cm and provides an opportunity to bury weed and its seeds and debris as well as incorporate nutrients, lime, organic matter or other soil amendments to depth.
This is the land preparation equipment that is used for crushing soil clods, press small stones, remove air pockets and so on. The cultipacker does a finishing job as it crushes dirt clods, removes air pockets, and presses down small stones, forming a smooth, firm seedbed. If seeds were broadcasted, the roller of the cultipacker gently firms the soil around the seeds to facilitate shallow seed placement and excellent seed-to-soil contact.
The harrow is the land preparation tool used for smoothening and further breaking down of soil after plowing. Harrowing is often carried out on fields to follow the rough finish left by plowing operations. The harrow breaks down soil clods (lumps of soil) and to provide a finer and a good soil structure that enables easy percolation of water, good root development and easy seedbed construction. The Harrow is also be used to remove weeds, debris, and to cover seed after sowing; it also create a crumbly layer for planting , improves both the air and water penetrability into soil to improve microbiological processes and nutrient availability to plants.
This land preparation tool is tractor-mounted equipment that is used to break up and loosen the soil while deep tillage. It is used to improve the growth of crops in the areas with impervious soil compaction. Subsoiler, also called a mole plough, is a tractor mounted implement used to loosen and break up soil clods at depths below the level of a traditional disk harrow. Most tractor mounted land preparation tools will break up and turn over surface soil to a depth of 15-30 cm but a subsoiler will break up and loosen soil to twice those depths. Typically a subsoiler mounted to a Compact Utility Tractor will reach depths of about 30 cm .
Land Leveller is an important land preparation equipment that is used for farming and agriculture with a purpose to created a leveled land. It is usually used before the establishment of irrigation to the farmland. It ensures maximum utilization of limited water resource for irrigation task and simplification in the process of irrigation. The soil leveler facilitates the efficiency in the management of crops with better results and eliminates the problems of weeds for convenience in preparation of the land.
A Ridger is a farm implement, which cuts and turns the soil in two opposite directions simultaneously to form a planting medium called ridges. It is also used for earthing up operation. It comprises of discs that operate simultaneously to rotate in opposite directions, thereby cutting through the land and forming ridges. The discs allow the Ridger to penetrate even in impervious land conditions. These discs also facilitate sowing of crops, water management while also acting as walking paths and even boundaries in the field.
The Bulldozer is a tractor equipped land preparation equipment with a substantial metal plate called blade; the blade is used for the felling of trees, pushing large quantities of soil, debris or other materials during land preparation. The Bulldozer also has a claw-like device known as a ripper at the rear; this component helps to loosen densely compacted materials. It is usually a crawler (continuous tracked) tractor. It can also be used as a leveller for levelling of farmland.