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Small Farm Tractor Implement Talk

Brian and the Alice Chalmers G Electric Tractor.

Wondering what kind of fancy tractor implements we use on this little organic farm? I know you are. The curiosity has likely been eating away at you all year, so apologies for not getting around to the subject sooner. While most small farms rely heavily on hand labor for harvesting, weeding, trellising, etc. having a tractor is pretty nice for moving dirt around without throwing your back out. Very small farms, generally under a couple acres, often rely on 2-wheel tractors like a BCS or other model, for tilling, plowing or harrowing small areas. We also use a 2-wheel tiller for getting inside tight spaces like greenhouses and tunnels, but mainly we use our 45 HP Branson tractor for tillage type of work.

The main implements for the Branson tractor are as follows:

Flail Mower – Chops up cover crops and cash crops into small pieces for quick breakdown into the soil.

Brush Hog – Faster and coarser than the flail. Good for mowing large areas of grass.

Chisel Plow – 2’ deep, 18” shanks that break up compaction and help aerate subsoil.

Rototiller – Used shallowly to incorporate weeds, cover crop, or vegetable residue into the soil. Also the final step in bed preparation to create a nice soil texture for seeding.

Cone Spreader – Spreads fertilizer (lime, feather meal, dolapril, etc.) evenly over a 30 ft width. Holds 400lbs of fertilizer per load.

Middle Buster – A big shovel like tool that is dragged to create trenches for potato planting. Also doubles as a potato harvester!

We also have a 15HP electric cultivating tractor that we drive over young crops to weed between rows. Gotta plant in straight, parallel rows for it to work!

We’re always geeking out on new tools to possibly add to the arsenal, but equipment is expensive and usually doesn’t pay off unless it’s a great fit for your farm system. We’re eyeing a Power Harrow for 2024, which is like a fancy rototiller, but creates less soil disturbance and compaction.