Tending to fields is a tricky business, that much is for sure. Even those of us who have been maintaining them for decades can still slip up from time to time, so it’s not hard to see how those new to the practice can struggle.
Especially when you take all those different agricultural terms into account. There are so many of them and they all mean slightly different things.
Take plowing and harrowing, for instance. Both are essential to the upkeep of that stunning field yet so many people get them confused.
It’s not really hard to see why since they share similarities in many aspects. With that being said, though, they are not the same.
In this article, we’re going to learn a little more about harrowing, and considering one false move in field maintenance can leave behind long-lasting damage, you might want to stick around.
So, let’s start learning all that vital harrowing-related information! Ready? Good!
Let’s Define Harrowing
Okay, so, as we mentioned above, actually understanding harrowing can be a little tricky for many of us out there – so let’s define it once and for all.
Harrowing is a type of method for soil preparation that commonly coexists with plowing a field so that it is ready for seeding. This method is done using a type of equipment that is known as a harrow.
And this is where a lot of the confusion comes in. Harrows look very similar to plows. But they are not the same. Typically, you’d find that plows delve much deeper into the soil and are much wider.
Harrows on the other hand tend to be much shallower and smaller in size. They have a row of chains, tines, or discs which are evenly spaced out.
These are then dragged across the upper surface of the soil. This equipment is, nowadays, typically driven across the field via the use of a tractor, however many moons ago they were pulled either by horse or by individuals themselves.
So, at least harrowing has gotten a little easier over the years.
Harrowing will usually take place immediately after the soil has been plowed.
So, What Is The Benefit Of Harrowing Your Field?
Now that we know a little more about what harrowing actually is, your next question is probably why do you need to do it. And really, the answer is that its benefits are endless.
It’s such a versatile practice that can help prepare your crops for seeding, help prevent weed growth, and more.
Disease is another peril to anyone in field maintenance, but thankfully harrowing helps to combat this too. Harrowing exposes fungi and bacteria to sunlight which helps to reduce the risk of disease.
It also allows for a much healthier pasture because of the sunlight exposure.
Clump Elimination & Sod Mixing
As far as benefits go, its most efficient and effective one is its ability to eliminate clumps. Any seasoned veteran of field maintenance understands the perils of soil clumping. They probably recoil at the very thought.
There is absolutely nothing worse than initiating your seeding only to find the soil of the field has clumped together…it can ruin everything.
Harrowing is the perfect solution to this problem. And in fact, you’ll actually find that your handy plow is the main clump culprit to your field’s soil.
So, harrowing immediately after plowing helps to eliminate all of those pesky clumps to ensure that you can move onto the seed-sowing process without encountering any time consuming issues.
Not only this but harrowing also allows you to break up sod and mix it into the surrounding soil.
Now, harrowing might not necessarily be the answer to all your problems, since it will struggle to break up the particularly large clumps.
However, it will bring them to the surface of the soil where they can be easily eroded. So, it’s still, overall, a complete field maintenance lifesaver.
For those who don’t know, harrowing is a type of tilling. And a very effective one at that. In terms of seed planting preparation, it is the very best kind. This is because harrows provide a very fine even layer of soil.
And in turn, this means that your crop rows will be prepared for seeding much quicker compared to other rougher methods.
However, it’s important to note that some harrows will be more effective than others when it comes to producing fine layers of soil while other harrows are more suited to the post-seeding processes.
The Different Types Of Harrows
Okay, so as we mentioned just, some harrows are more suited to certain roles in field maintenance. This is because there are several different types of harrows that differ from one another.
But how do you know which ones are which? Let’s take a look.
Disc Harrows consist of a row of vertically-aligned discs that run through the soil as they move across the field. These types of harrows don’t produce super fine soil though, they usually just break up bigger clods of earth.
You’ll usually use this after plowing and then further go over the soil with a finer harrow.
Tine harrows are much finer harrows. These are usually used just before seeding because they create a fine light soil that is devoid of weeds.
It also does an excellent job of smoothing out the top level of ground while also making water absorption much more effortless for the field’s soil.
These types of harrows are a little more versatile depending on the weight of the chain used.
For example, a light chain harrow is usually used for similar applications to that of tine harrows while heavy chain harrows are much closer to disc harrows and help to break up bigger clumps of earth.
Less versatile, but very effective, these types of harrows are popular choices because of their ability to prepare a field in a single pass.
They don’t work great for declumping larger clots of earth but they do an amazing job of smoothing out the soil ready for seeding.
The Power Harrow
This is the more modern answer to this type of equipment. These harrows have rotating tines that are powered. These are usually the most popular for those with large-scale harrowing operations due to their power and efficiency.
How Often Should You Harrow?
Ideally, you should harrow your fields approximately two to three times per year. The best time to harrow your fields is either in the late autumn, winter, or the very beginning of spring.
Usually, as we have mentioned throughout the article, this will happen after you have plowed the fields.
Hopefully, after reading this article, you now understand a little more about the harrowing process and why it is useful.
There are many benefits of harrowing your fields, doing so will ensure that you don’t get any of those irritating clumps that can hinder the seeding process.
Not only this but it also helps to get rid of unwanted weeds, helps prevent disease, and produces a smooth and fine soil for your field.
You’ve also learned how often you should harrow your fields along with when you should do it too. And if that wasn’t enough, you’ve also learned all about the different types of harrows out there along with their purposes.
And so now, you should be ready to maintain your fields like an absolute pro! And trust us, when seeding rolls around, you’ll be very thankful to know this information.
It should make things a whole lot easier from here on out!