Rippers, Hydraulics, and Bush Hogs: The Modern Farmer Dictionary of Tractor Implements - Modern Farmer

Rippers, Hydraulics, and Bush Hogs: The Modern Farmer Dictionary of Tractor Implements

In which you will learn how to use terms like "power takeoff” and "three-point hitch” in a sentence.

Your complete guide to tractor implements.
Photography By smereka / shutterstock.com

A Primer on Hitches

To really show off your farm cred, you need to be fluent in hitch-speak: how implements are attached to tractors, that is. One hundred years ago, the only option was to drag plows and other implements behind a tractor, in the same way that they were dragged behind horses. Things have come a long way.

1. PTO controls 2. Hydraulic arms 3. Center hitch (of three-point hitch) 4. Bottom hitches (of three-point hitch) 5. Power takeoff (PTO) 6. Drawbar 7. Hydraulic controls / Photo from wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_Tractor%27s_rear_1.jpg

Drawbar: A horizontal bar bolted to the back of a tractor to which various implements can be mounted. Drawbars were the standard hitch on early tractors, and are still occasionally used today.

Three-Point Hitch: A system with three points of connection, arranged in a triangular layout, between a tractor and an implement. Three-point hitches, which provide greater stability than drawbars and can connect to a much wider range of implements, have been the standard type of tractor hitch since the 1940s.

Hydraulics: Oil-filled, pressurized tubes that power “arms” on the back of a tractor (and often the front) that are used to manipulate implements. Two of the three points of a three-point hitch are typically at the end of hydraulic arms that are used to lower implements to the ground and raise them when not in use.

Power Takeoff: A spinning shaft powered by the tractor engine that is used to turn rotating implements such as mowers and tillers. Power takeoffs, which are typically integrated with a three-point hitch at the rear of a tractor, are notoriously dangerous: many farmers have been maimed or killed when their clothing became caught in the PTO shaft.

Implement Dictionary

Here is a sampling of the tools that can be mounted on the front or back of a tractor. Some require PTO or hydraulic power; others are “ground-driven,” meaning the implement is activated simply by dragging it across the earth. NOTE: Though posthole diggers, stump grinders, backhoes, and snow blowers are fun toys to mount on your John Deere, we’ve left those out in favor of implements that have a direct connection to agriculture.

Bed Shaper: A tool that forms tilled soil into raised beds with furrows between them. Bed shapers are often used before planting vegetables to create deeper, better-drained beds than is possible simply with tilling.

Disk Harrow: A series of round blades that loosen soil, destroy weeds, and chop up crop residue. Disks do not the loosen the soil the depths possible with a tiller or plow but are used for seeding grains and other crops where deep tillage is not required.

Hay Baler: A large implement that forms compressed bales when pulled over rows of dry hay (most balers are PTO-powered). Different balers are used to make small rectangular bales versus large cylindrical bales; the latter requires a larger tractor.

Hay Rake: An implement that pulls hay into rows after it has been dried in the field (both ground-driven and PTO-powered models are available). Raking hay into rows is the intermediate step between tedding, which helps the hay to dry, and baling.

Hay Tedder: An implement with many small spinning tines that fluffs up and turns over freshly cut hay (both ground-driven and PTO-powered models are available). A tedder makes hay dry faster, preventing it from becoming moldy.

Loader: A bucket mounted to the front of a tractor that is used to move compost, soil, brush, livestock feed and other materials around a farm. Loaders, which give tractors capabilities similar to a small bulldozer, are powered by a hydraulic system.

Manure Spreader: A cart pulled behind a tractor in which spinning blades force the contents (manure or compost) out the back (both ground-driven and PTO-powered models are available). Manure spreaders are designed to evenly distribute the material across a field.

Plow: Steel shanks that are pulled behind a tractor to loosen the earth in preparation for planting. The various types of plows – chisel and moldboard are the most common – are old-fashioned cultivation tools that are still widely used; unlike tillers, plows are simply pulled behind a tractor and do not require power from a PTO.

Ripper: A long steel shank (also referred to as a subsoiler) that loosens the soil to a much greater depth than other implements, but does not mix the surface layers of the soil like a tiller. Rippers, which are used to break up “hard pan” soil to improve drainage and allow roots to penetrate more deeply, may be used singly or with several mounted together on a large rack.

Roller Crimper: A large cylindrical implement used to crush existing vegetation (typically a cover crop) in a field so that seed may be planted directly without any other form of tillage or cultivation. Because they do not disturb the soil, roller crimpers are a popular implement on “no-till” farms; they are often mounted on the front of a tractor, while a rear-mounted seed drill simultaneously plants the crop.

Rotary Mower: A PTO-powered mower with thick, dull blades that is used to chop down heavy brush, rather than grass. Popularly referred to as a bush hog (which is a brand of rotary mowers), this maintenance tool is often used to keep pastures from reverting to forest.

Seed Drill: An implement that deposits seeds into the ground and covers them with soil (both ground-driven and PTO-powered models are available). Seed drills are adjustable to accommodate the required planting depth and spacing of different crops.

Sickle Bar Mower: A mower with a blade that extends off to one side of the tractor, making it possible to maintain ditches, pond edges and other areas where it would be unsafe to drive a tractor. Sickle bar mowers, along with disk and drum mowers, are often used to cut hay.

Sprayer: A pressurized tank used to distribute liquid pesticides and fertilizers (both organic or synthetic forms). Sprayers, which are typically PTO-powered, are either mounted on the back of a tractor or pulled on a cart.

Spreader: A hopper with a spinning disk at the bottom that is used to distribute fertilizer or seed evenly across a field. Spreaders, which are typically PTO-powered, are either mounted on the back of a tractor or pulled on a cart.

Spring-Tooth Harrow: Curved blades that break up the surface of the soil to remove weeds and prepare for planting. Spring-tooth harrows are often used as a final stage of tillage to create a fine seedbed.

Tiller: A PTO-powered tool with a series of angled blades that rotate rapidly, loosening soil and destroying weeds in preparation for planting. Tiller blades, also referred to as tines can loosen the soil to a depth of 6 inches or more, which is necessary for planting most vegetables.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related
Farm Favorites
Read the latest reviews on our favorite products.
Tom Chappell’s Ramblers Way knits

Whether toothpaste or cardigans, Chappell is selling the idea that businesses should not exist just... (more)

Things We Love: AKUA Kelp Jerky

If you told me there was a jerky snack made out of kelp - yes,... (more)

Things We Love: CleverMade Snapbasket Cooler

It can keep up to 50 cans chilled for up to 36 hours and collapses... (more)

Things We Love: Republic of Tea Daily Greens Single Sips

It's like green juice: but way easier.

More shopping