Chisel Plow vs Moldboard

Moldboard vs Chisel Plows: [Which is Better? Answer is Here]

When prepping soil, moldboard plows utilize curved blades to completely invert the top layer, perfect for heavy or compacted soil. Chisel plows dig deeper but don’t overturn the soil, leaving crop residue on top while shattering hardpan below.

Proper soil preparation is a crucial part of farming. Two of the main tools used for tilling and preparing soil are the moldboard plow and the chisel plow.

While both plow types serve to break up and aerate the soil, they have some key differences in how they operate and their effectiveness in various conditions.

What is a Moldboard Plow?

A moldboard plow uses a curved metal blade (the moldboard) to cut into the soil and flip it over. As the plow moves forward, the moldboard slices under the top layer of soil and rotates it upside down.

This buries any existing crop residue or weeds under the surface and creates a loose, uniform seedbed for planting.

Some of the main features and uses of moldboard plows:

  • Puts pressure on the entire ground surface below the plowshare to break up compacted layers in the soil.
  • Turns over and thoroughly mixes the top 6-8 inches of soil. This incorporates crop residue, manure, and amendments into the seedbed.
  • The curved moldboard design directs the soil sideways and inverts it, burying weeds and surface material.
  • Creates a fine, loose, and level seedbed ideal for planting small-seeded crops like wheat.
  • Effective for heavy clay soils and in areas with cold winters where deep freezing helps break up the soil.
  • Requires significant horsepower to pull, making it more costly to operate.
  • {Related Post: What Is A Moldboard Plow: [Detailed Overview]

What is a Chisel Plow?

A chisel plow has a series of thick, sturdy shanks with hard metal points or teeth on the end. As it moves through the field, the chisel points dig into the soil and loosen it.

However, the soil is not turned over.

Here are some of the main features and uses of chisel plows:

  • The chisel shanks dig up to 18 inches deep to break up hardpan and compacted layers while still leaving the top layer intact.
  • Mainly loosens and aerates soil without inverting it. Crop residue stays on the surface rather than being buried.
  • Takes less power to pull than a moldboard plow, so it’s more fuel efficient.
  • Leaves furrows and pockets to trap moisture and decompose organic matter.
  • Points can penetrate non-plowed areas like pastures to open and aerate the soil.
  • Some models have attachments for adding liquid fertilizer or anhydrous ammonia deep into the soil.
  • Not designed to fully invert and mix the soil in preparation for planting.

[Related Post: What Is A Chisel Plow: [Detailed Overview]

Key Differences Between the Plow Types

Plowing Depth – Moldboards typically plow 6-8 inches deep while chisel shanks loosen soil up to 18 inches deep.

Soil Inversion – Moldboards turn the top layer of soil over completely whereas chisel plows aerate and mix the soil while leaving surface residue in place.

Power Requirements – Moldboard plows require more horsepower to operate. Chisel plows are more fuel efficient.

Soil Conditions – Moldboards excel at breaking up compacted surfaces and heavy soils. Chisels are ideal for hard, impacted subsoil layers.

Seedbed Preparation – Moldboard plowing provides a finer, more uniform seedbed for planting small seeds. Chiseling is not meant to create a seedbed.

Choosing the Right Plow

The type of plow you use depends on your specific soil properties and farming needs. Here are some factors to help determine which is best for your fields:

  • Soil Type – Moldboards work best for heavy clay soils that need deep inversion. Chisels are ideal for hard, compacted soils that need deep aeration.
  • Crop Residue – If you need to bury a lot of residue, a moldboard plow may be better. Chisel plows leave residue on the surface.
  • Erosion – Moldboards leave soil more prone to erosion. Chisel plowing helps reduce erosion.
  • Fuel Efficiency – Chisel plows require less horsepower than moldboards.
  • Seedbed Needs – For a fine, level seedbed, use a moldboard. Chisels simply fracture and loosen soil.

Understanding the capabilities of each plow type allows you to select the right one for your specific soil preparation needs.

Proper plowing improves soil health, increases crop yields, and reduces farming costs in the long run.