5 common types of plows used in farming are: Moldboard plows to invert and turn soil; Chisel plows to loosen deep compaction; Disc plows to cut through crop residues; Subsoilers to fracture hardpans below normal depth; and Reversible plows to increase efficiency from two-way plowing. Each plow is suited to different soil conditions and farming needs.
When it comes to preparing soil for planting, plowing is one of the most important tasks for farmers.
There are several different types of plows used in farming, each suited for different soil conditions and purposes.
1. Moldboard Plow
The moldboard plow is likely the most common type of plow used in farming. It consists of three main parts – a share (blade), a moldboard (for turning the furrow slice), and a landside (to absorb side thrust).
Moldboard plows are best suited for breaking up and inverting tougher soil. The curved moldboard helps turn over the furrow slice cleanly. These plows work well in soils with high clay content.
They bury crop residue and weeds to decompose. Moldboard plowing is ideal when preparing soil for the first time or converting grassland to cropland.
The depth of moldboard plowing can be adjusted based on conditions.
Typically it ranges from 5-10 inches deep. Plowing depth depends on factors like soil compaction, desired tilth, and erosion concerns.
For more info on moldboard plows, check out my article here, What Is A Moldboard Plow: [Detailed Overview]
2. Chisel Plow
Chisel plows have multiple long, pointed shanks with blades on the ends. They are designed to break up compacted soil layers and improve drainage without inverting the soil.
Chisel plowing uses the shanks to till deep into the soil, while leaving crop residue on top. It is considered a form of deep tillage, working below the topsoil.
Chisel plows aerate and loosen the soil to improve water movement and root growth.
Chisel plows come in a variety of shank sizes and spacings to match soil conditions and tractor power. Wider shank spacing is better for hard, compacted soil.
Close spacing works for normal tillage.
For more info on chisel plows, check out my article here, What Is A Chisel Plow: [Detailed Overview]
3. Disc Plow
The disc plow has rows of concave steel discs that revolve as they are pulled. The discs cut into the soil and turn it over.
Disc plows work well for plowing in rough terrain or in fields with a lot of crop residue. The smooth rolling discs reduce clogging compared to moldboard plows.
Disc plows can help break up hard, compacted soil.
Discs come in varying sizes, thicknesses, and concavity. Large, thin discs are ideal for deep tillage.
Thicker, more concave discs provide aggressive cutting for sod and residues.
For more info on disc plows, check out my article here, Cutting Through the Soil: Disc Plows Explained
4. Subsoiling Plow
Subsoiling plows have long shanks that extend deep into the soil to break up compacted layers below the normal plowing depth. This helps improve water infiltration and root growth.
Subsoilers provide deep tillage without inverting the soil.
Subsoiling shanks penetrate 16-36 inches deep. This fractures hardpans caused by heavy equipment compressing the subsurface soil.
It creates pathways for moisture and roots far below the surface.
Subsoiling should only be done periodically, as it can cause excessive soil drying if done repeatedly. It is most effective when soils are slightly moist.
The best time is typically in the fall after harvest.
For more info on subsoiling plows, check out my article here, Purpose and Function of Subsoiler Plows.
5. Reversible Plow
Reversible plows can be used in both forward and reverse directions thanks to their reversible frame design. This makes them more efficient by reducing the need to turn the tractor around at the end of each pass.
Having two-way plowing capability saves time and fuel. It also reduces soil compaction from tractor turns.
Reversible plows allow continuous tillage without backtracking.
The hydraulic mechanism for reversing the plows direction must be robust and reliable. Reversible plows also require a wider headland area to maneuver in. Overall, they offer important efficiency benefits.
The type of plow used depends on factors like soil composition, tractor power, and the farmer’s specific goals.
Selecting the right plow leads to improved soil conditions for planting crops.
For more info on reversable plows, check out my article here, What Is a Reversible Plow: [Detailed Overview]