Tractor plowing a field

The plow vs. cultivator comparison will always pop up, particularly among farmers and homeowners who do a bit of gardening. If you fall under this category, you probably need to choose between these tools or use both at different stages. However, it is essential to learn what both offer in terms of capabilities and ease of use.

Plowing the soil involves removing horizontal clods from the soil. A cultivator does almost the opposite. It is designed to stir the soil around a mature crop. That action stimulates growth and eliminates weeds from the soil.

These two actions have stood the test of time, with tools getting modified through the ages. For this reason, farmers can hardly do without the two since they handle different phases of the farming process.

This article will teach you more about cultivators and plows, what sets them apart, and the best choice for you.

Working With a Plow

Typically, plowing takes place at the end of the harvesting phase. The primary goal of using a plow is to remove weeds and, in most cases, previous crop residue by getting them down to a depth. But the process will not affect plant growth.

Plowing softens the soil to prepare it for the following farming season. In addition, it can be down any time of the year. But if you want the best results, plow during the middle of the year.

Working With a Cultivator

Plowing soil with a cultivator

A cultivator starts working when the plants begin to sprout. Cultivating is loosening the soil around plants to help their growth. Also, cultivators do not churn deeply into the ground like tillers, but they art frequently used between rows to ward off weeds and to aerate the soil.

Porous soil is beneficial because plants have better access to more water while fertilizer gets to their roots. Cultivating just a few inches into the soil is enough. You would want to avoid getting too close to desired plants or risk damaging their roots.

Plows vs. Cultivators: Spotting the Differences

Mainly, the differences between a plow and a cultivator revolve around their firm and application. A plow loosens or turns the soil when you want to sow a seed or plant. That can be done through extensive soil excavation, which allows the soil conditions to mix and return nutrients from the subsoil to the higher layers. After plowing, natural elements like air and water easily reach the plant’s roots.

On the flip side, you’ve got a cultivator, a machine that breaks the top layer of soil for seeding purposes or to remove weeds. With it, soil aggregates get broken up, and the soil gets aerated when you cultivate it. As a result, soil organic materials are exposed, disintegration accelerates, and there’s harm to the soil structure. All this can be prevented by lowering tillage.

Plows vs. Cultivators: Exploring the Pros

Old manual plow

Plow Advantages

Plowing carries many advantages. It improves air circulation by loosening the soil. Also, the roots will likely go deeper into the earth so the plant can be firmly in place.

Further, plowing reinvigorates the soil, building it to become more porous. A porous soil is necessary to flow water, oxygen, and other organic compounds. Also, wastes from the previous crop get plowed back into the soil to supplement the existing plant.

Another advantage of plowing is helping the growth of microorganisms by uprooting weeds in the field. Nutrient uptake increases as the soil’s minerals move toward the soil’s surface.

Cultivator Advantages

Cultivators perform their taka by breaking up the soil by loosening it with tines or disks. That way, the equipment helps air and water to penetrate deeper into the soil and drain more efficiently. You will hardly find flooding on such soil.

In addition, when you use a cultivator around the base of a weed, it loosens the soil. That makes it easy to remove the whole plant from the ground with the roots still intact. Cultivators that have revolving tines are designed to aerate the soil and deal with weeds. The weeds get absorbed into the soil and provide nutrients to the garden.

You may be wondering about the best time to use cultivators. They function best when the soil is a little moist to the touch. When the soil is too dry or wet, it makes cultivation difficult.

Cultivating heavy soils should be done when preparing a seedbed for planting. You can also cultivate the soil to incorporate compost or organic fertilizer. Further, a cultivator allows beneficial bacteria and other microbes to deposit nutrients in the loosened soil. You can expect boosted crop yields, reduced soil erosion, and improved soil fertility when that happens.

The cultivator reduces manual labor and time spent attending to your farm. Running a large expanse of land helps you prepare every inch of the seedbed without hassle.

Plow vs. Cultivator: The Disadvantages

These two pieces of equipment make sense to have and work. But, normally, such tools with advantages will have a couple of drawbacks. Let’s check them out. 

Plow Disadvantages

Plowing can cause large clods to form on the ground. When that happens, the best remedy is to undergo different soil preparation methods. The clods usually collapse and become flaky, ready for the next crop. But this method leads to a halt in operations, resulting in a cost increase.

Further, the plow’s extreme weight applies pressure on the soil before forming a layer that only gets deeper over time.

When the layer forms, it prevents air and water from passing through, making the formation of new plant roots more complicated, and causing the soil’s fertility to deteriorate over time.

Cultivator Disadvantages

Cultivators perform strongly. However, using them can degrade soil structure and make your soil more sensitive to other types of damage like erosion. That’s why one of the

Using cultivators can degrade soil structure and make it more sensitive to other types of damage, such as erosion. Thus, the consequences of improper use of cultivators may bring adverse effects on your land. Cultivators can also increase hard setting and crusting issues when the soil organic matter and solid aggregates are destroyed.

Final Words: Plow or Cultivator?

It isn’t easy to do so when you have a choice between a cultivator and a plow based on the characteristics. Both are necessary equipment to keep your soil in good shape. Still, there are several reasons why the cultivator is better than the plow.

Firstly, plows take longer to use and primarily require more horsepower. As for cultivators, they do nothing but cultivate, which is necessary for sowing. In addition, cultivators are preferred by farmers even for plowing. That is because cultivators loosen the upper surface of the soil, eliminating undesired plants from the ground.

The plows are pretty good. But they require a lot of traction force, which mandates using specialized tractors. Such tractors are often expensive, so farmers mostly stick to cultivators.

Knowing what these two pieces of equipment bring to the table makes it easy to see why cultivators are better options. Cultivators are easier to use and generally offer more respite to your soil.

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