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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PST

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

by A.J. Ogaard & H.E. Murdock, issued by the Extension Service of Montana State College, Circular No. 47, May 1921

This circular has been prepared to answer the ever increasing inquiries received regarding the construction and use of homemade tillage implements, designed for effective summer tillage. The breakdown of the continuous cropping system on the dry farms of Montana has created a timely although somewhat belated interest in summer tillage and intertilled crops. There is a demand and an urgent need for the dissemination of information with reference to the principles underlying successful summer tillage as well as some definite suggestions as to their application. The discussion presented regarding tillage practices is far from complete. Where the soil, climate and other factors vary to such an extent, it is difficult to make anything but rather general suggestions, leaving the details to the judgment and experience of the farmer himself.

The tillage requirements for the successful handling of summer fallowing, demanded the use of implements designed especially for the work. While the disk and the spike tooth harrows have their place, their use in summer tillage is often open to considerable objection from the standpoints of effective weed eradication and the control of soil blowing. Implement manufacturers are meeting the demands for a specialized implement with machines of merit. It is now possible to purchase a make of machine to suit almost any condition if the money is available. There is no doubt that eventually they will be quite generally used. However, the dry farmers are at present hard pressed financially and in many instances the purchase of very much machinery is out of the question. For the man of small means or limited acreage, a homemade implement may be utilized at least temporarily. This circular presents a description of a few of the types of such machines which can be constructed in the farm shop or by the local blacksmith at a normal cost.

Some Principles: The successful dry farmer must keep the purposes for which he is cultivating definitely in mind, while choosing or using any particular implement. The blind following of rules has no place on the dry farm. The problem may be considered from any or all of the four angles:

  1. Seed bed preparation.
  2. Moisture conservation.
  3. Weed eradication.
  4. Soil blowing control.

Seed Bed Preparation: While an ideal seed bed is not always attainable it is well to keep in mind what would constitute a reasonably good seed bed. There is ample opportunity for the capitalization of good judgment in its preparation. For small grains, it is important that there be provided proper conditions for germination of the seed and subsequent growth, before seeding, because very little can be done to correct a poor seed bed thereafter. This is not as important with intertilled crops like corn or potatoes for with them subsequent cultivation is possible. Even then the substitution of cultivation for seed bed preparation is generally poor economy. While other considerations like soil blowing may modify the kind of seed bed desirable, it is generally agreed that the ideal condition between the plowed layer and the subsoil should be close. Air spaces should be reduced to a minimum. The soil should be as free as possible from weed seeds. In any event, the grain should be given an equal chance by the killing of all weed growth immediately before seeding. Moisture should be available for germination at ht best seeding depth and this condition should continue into the subsoil.

Moisture Conservation: It is important that as much of the precipitation be absorbed by the soil as possible. The reduction of losses by “runoff” is essential. The so called “dust mulch” is not generally efficient in this respect, especially on the heavier clay soils. A rigid, slightly lumpy surface will tend to hold the moisture sufficiently to allow the subsurface to absorb it, while a finely pulverized surface is apt to “puddle” and become almost waterproof.

Aside from the use of moisture by growing crops and weeds, we are concerned with the direct losses from the surface of the soil itself. The farmer probably overestimates the losses from the subsurface through direct evaporation. There is no question that a soil mulch does aid in preventing losses of water but ordinarily cultivation for the sole and only purpose of maintaining a mulch, dissipates as much moisture as is saved. (This statement apples to average dry land conditions.) An exception to this must be made on heavy soils which upon drying are apt to check badly. On our gumbo lands, deep cracks are invariably the rule as the soil dries. The inevitable losses of moisture through circulation of air within these cracks, should be controlled by cultivation. Ordinarily, however, it has been found that under dry land conditions, where there is an absence of free water table within a reasonable depth, the control of weeds is a more important function of cultivation than the maintenance of mulch.

Weed Control: The greatest losses of soil moisture are due to growing vegetation and it is therefore evident that the elimination of weeds, the prime dissipators of soil moisture, should be of first importance. The time to kill weeds is when they are young and tender. A stitch in time saves nine in weed control. The job should also be thorough. It is important that implements be used that do not allow the weeds to slip or escape destruction in any other way. Shallow cultivation is generally recommend- ed. Stirring the soil deeply causes direct losses of soil moisture without any advantage in weed control in spite of the fact that the draft of the implement is increased. Some of the special machines are a big improvement over the ordinary implements used.

Soil Blowing: Some methods are out of the question on light soils that are apt to blow. As the organic matter in our soils becomes exhausted, more trouble along this line may be expected. Ordinarily it is deemed best to cover stubble, straw and trash, but on soils apt to blow, the trash and lumps should be brought to the surface. Many of the newer types of tillage implements tend to sift the fine soil below the clod mulch so desirable on top. Ridging the soil at right angles to the prevailing winds is also an aid in keeping the surface soil in place. To obtain the clod surface, it is necessary to use the proper machine when the soil is moist. Working the soil while dry has a pulverizing effect. Implements vary in this regard, however. Some types will pulverize very little as they do not disturb the top soil to any marked degree.

Bearing these principles in mind, we are ready to look over the available machines. It is not our aim to make any specific recommendations, for the final choice will depend on local conditions and individual preference.

Types of Commercial Machines

Machines having a place in the proper handling of summer tilled land may be classified into the following types:

  1. Spike tooth harrow.
  2. Spring tooth harrow.
  3. Disk harrow.
  4. Acme weeders.
  5. Rod weeder.
  6. Spring tooth weeder.
  7. Blade weeders.
  8. Duckfoot cultivators.
  9. Combinations of above.
The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

Figure 1. The Sled Knife Weeder

The Sled Knife Weeder or “Slicker”: The principles of this weeder, (Fig. 1), is to have a broad, flat blade sharpened on one edge to be pulled through the soil at the proper depth to cut off and kill the weeds. The knife weeders are used on the heavier and medium soils. They work well when the weeds and trash are well turned in plowing, but clog badly when they are not well covered, and bother by clogging up with roots. The depth of the blade is from two to four inches. The runners (a) are made of two-inch by 10-inch material, four feet long. The platform (b) is made of two-inch by eight-inch or two-inch by ten-inch material. Half-inch by six-inch inch by eighteen-inch bolts are used to secure the cutting blade to the runners. A piece of three-quarter-inch gas pipe, (c) two inches to four inches long is used between the blade and the runners. The cutter bar graces, (f ) are made of three-eighths-inch by one and one-half-inch bars. For depths of cut to three inches it may not be necessary to use the braces indicated. The runners, (e) on top are made of two-inch by four-inch or two-inch by six-inch lumber and are used for transporting the weeder. The length of the weeder is eight feet. The blade can be made of three-eighths-inch by two and three-quarters-inch or one-half-inch by three-inch steel.

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

Figure 2. The Gooseneck “Slicker”

The “Gooseneck Slicker”: This weeder (Fig. 2), uses the same principle of weed eradication as the sled weeder, but is an improved form. It is adaptable to the same types of soil, and has the same objections as the sled weeder. The driver rides on the tailboard, (b) and by shifting his position the depth of cut is regulated. The hitch is made to the heavy beam.

To make this weeder will require a blacksmith or farm shop. The goosenecks, (c) and the runners, (e) are all attached to the large beam, (a) to which the hitch is also attached. Some difficulty may be experienced in getting the proper slant and curvature of the gooseneck. A beam of six-inch by eight-inch material will usually be sufficiently strong. When the knife clogs, the team is stopped, and the knife is raised out of the ground sufficiently to clean the knife by lifting up on the tailboard.

The Rod Weeder: Knife weeders are troublesome in getting clogged up with roots and trash and to partly overcome this difficulty, a rod may be used as a cutting edge, and if the rod is made to rotate, the cleaning will be positive. The pressure coming onto the rod cleans the weeds and roots off as it passed through the soil. The rod weeder cuts off the weeds without pulverizing the surface. More power is usually needed, however, to operate the rod type as compared with the knife weeder. This weeder should not be used in wet soil. The best time for its use is when the surface soil is dry to a depth of a few inches and requires cultivation.. The ordinary cultivator or disk would pulverize the surface too much, while the rod weeder will kill the weeds without forming a dust mulch, tending rather to sift the clods to the surface.

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

Figure 3. Single Rod Weeder

The frame, (Fig. 3, a), is made of two-inch by eight-inch pieces of lumber, eight feet long. The rod, (j) is made of five-eighths-inch to one-inch tool steel and is fastened to the farm by the arms, (i) made of iron about half-inch by two and one-half- inch and eighteen inches or twenty inches long, which are bolted between the frame parts, (a). The braces, (h) may be made of the same material. Two-inch by six-inch material is used for the part, (b) of the frame. These are six feet long, extending back and serving as runners when the weeder is being used. The runners, (g) are made of four-inch by four-inch material two and one-half feet long. These are used for transporting the weeder when not in use by tipping up the back end. The brace, (d) is two-inch by six-inch and twenty-eight inches long. (C) is the seat board, two-inch by six-inch, and six feet long. The position of the seat can be adjusted to suit the conditions. (F) is two inch by six-inch and two feet long, used to support the seat board, and is fastened to (e), which is two-inch by four-inch material and sixteen inches long, fastened one foot from the end of the runners, (b).

The Use and Construction of Home Made Implements

Figure 4. Double Rod Weeder

The Double Rod Weeder: In Figure 4, is shown the rear view of a double rod weeder, twelve feet long. The purpose of the extra rod is for cleaning. The driver usually rides near the rear of the tailboard and the rear rod is in the ground. When the rod becomes clogged he will move forward and dump it by raising the rear rod out of the ground and at the same time forcing the front rod into the ground. This shifting can be done quickly and the implement cleaned with stopping or skipping.

The runners are made of two-inch by twelve-inch material, four feet long. The frame to which the runners are bolted is made of two-inch by ten-inch lumber. The rods are attached to the frame through iron bars which are bolted to the runners. No skids are shown on top of the weeder for use in transporting, but these can be provided the same as for the sled knife weeder, (Fig. 1).

Power Required: The power needed for these weeders will vary greatly with the nature and condition of the soil and with the conditions of the weeder if of the knife type. The cutting edges of the knives should always be kept sharp so as to reduce draft and increase their effectiveness. For average conditions it may be stated that for the homemade weeders described in this circular, one horse will be able to pull about two feet of length if of the rod type and three feet if of the knife type. Thus, the eight-foot knife weeders will require two or three horses, the eight-foot rod weeder four, and the twelve-foot rod weeder, six horses.

Spotlight On: Equipment & Facilities

Ask A Teamster Neckyokes

Ask A Teamster: Neckyokes

I always chain or otherwise secure slip-on type neckyokes to the tongue so they don’t come off and cause an accident. Neckyokes unexpectedly coming off the tongue have caused countless problems, the likes of which have caused injuries, psychological damage, and even death to horses, and to people as well. Making sure the neckyoke is chained or otherwise secured to the tongue every time you hitch a team is a quick and easy way of eliminating a number of dangerous situations.

Disc Harrow Requirements

Disc Harrow Requirements

by:
from issue:

One of the most important requirements is disc blade concavity, that is, correct concavity. Further along we set forth the purposes of disc concavity. We feel it is important enough to devote the extra time and words in a discussion of the subject, because seldom is disc concavity talked about, and very few know that there is difference enough to cause good and bad work.

Mowing with Scythes

Mowing with Scythes

by:
from issue:

Scythes were used extensively in Europe and North America until the early 20th century, after which they went out of favor as farm mechanization took off. However, the scythe is gaining new interest among small farmers in the West who want to mow grass on an acre or two, and could be a useful tool for farmers in the Tropics who do not have the resources to buy expensive mowing equipment.

LittleField Notes Spring 2013

LittleField Notes: Spring 2013

by:
from issue:

If we agree that quality of plowing is subject to different criteria at different times and in different fields, then perhaps the most important thing to consider is control. How effectively can I plow to attain my desired field condition based on my choice of plow? The old time plow manufacturers understood this. At one time there were specific moldboards available for every imaginable soil type and condition.

Illusive Herd of Threshasaurus Sighted

Illusive Herd of Threshasaurus Sighted

by:
from issue:

The Threshasaurus’s large size and curious nature may appear antagonistic, but they are mostly curious and largely non-threatening. Be careful when approaching, however, as they do have sharp teeth and many fast moving, exposed pulleys.

International Harvester Fertilizer Distributor

International Harvester Fertilizer Distributor

from issue:

Because of the many varieties and mixtures or fertilizer, it is impossible to give complete tables listing them. It is, however, very easy to determine the distribution of any particular fertilizer by proceeding as follows. Put a cloth, or some large sheets of paper under the machine and turn the main driving wheel 57 times for 7′, 51 times for 8′ and 46 times for 9′ machine. Weigh the amount ejected which will indicate the amount distributed per one-tenth of an acre.

Step Ahead Horse Progress Days 2016

Step Ahead: 23rd Annual Horse Progress Days 2016

by:
from issue:

I had only been to Horse Progress Days once before, at Mount Hope, Ohio in 2008. It had been an eye-opener, showing how strong and in touch with sustainable farming values the Amish are, and how innovative and sensible their efforts could be. So at the 23rd annual event in Howe, Indiana, I was there partly looking for signs of continuity, and partly for signs of change. Right off I spotted an Amish man with a Blue Tooth in his ear, talking as he walked along.

Build Your Own Butter Churn

Build Your Own Butter Churn

by:
from issue:

Fresh butter melting on hot homemade bread… Isn’t that the homesteader’s dream? A cheap two-gallon stock pot from the local chain store got me started in churn building. It was thin stainless steel and cost less than ten bucks. I carted it home wondering what I might find in my junk pile to run the thing. I found an old squirrel cage fan and pulled the little motor to test it. I figure that if it could turn a six-inch fan, it could turn a two-inch impeller.

New Idea Mower

New Idea Mower

from issue:

For proper operation the outer end of the cutter bar should lead the inner end when the machine is not in operation. After long use the cutter bar may lag back and if this happens it can be corrected by making adjustments on the cutter bar eccentric bushing as follows: First making sure that the pin and bolt in the hinge casting “A” Fig. 5 are tight and in good condition.

New Horse-drawn Side Delivery Rakes from Europe

New Horse-drawn Side Delivery Rakes from Europe

In Northern Italy the two agricultural machinery manufacturers MAINARDI A. s.r.l. and REPOSSI Macchine Agricole s.r.l. produce a vast range of haying equipment with pto and hydraulic drive, also hay rakes with mechanical drive by the rear wheels. The majority of the sold machines of this type are currently used with small tractors and motor cultivators. The technology of these rakes is based on implements which were developed in the 1940s, when animal traction still played an important role in Italy’s agriculture.

An Efficient, Economical Barn

by:
from issue:

A well thought out, functional barn should be the center piece of any farming endeavor, horse powered or fossil fueled, that involves livestock. After building and using two previous barns during our lifetimes, I think the one we now have has achieved a level of convenience, efficiency, and economy that is worth passing on.

Champion No.4 Mower Reaper

The Champion No. 4 Combined Mower and Self-Raking Reaper

by:
from issue:

The project for the winter of 2010 was a Champion No. 4 mower made sometime around 1878 by the Champion Machine Works of Springfield, Ohio. The machine was designed primarily as a mower yet for an additional charge a reaping attachment could be added. The mower was in remarkably good condition for its age. After cleaning dirt from gears and oiling, we put the machine on blocks and found that none of the parts were frozen and everything moved.

Posts

Driving Fence Posts By Hand

Where the soil is soft, loose, and free from stone, posts may be driven more easily and firmly than if set in holes dug for the purpose.

Homemade Beet Grinder

Homemade Beet Grinder

by:
from issue:

This is my small beet grinder I built about 6 years ago. It has done nearly daily duty for that time. The beet fodder is added to my goat and rabbit rations which are largely homemade. Adding the pulp to the grain rations has aided me in having goat milk throughout the winter months. My beets are the Colossal Red Mangels. Many grow up to 2 feet long. I cut off enough for a day’s feed and grind it up each morning. Beets oxidize like cut apples. Fresh is best!

Haying With Horses

Haying With Horses

If the reader is considering the construction of a barn we encourage you to give more than passing thought to allowing the structure of the gable to be open enough to accommodate the hanging of a trolley track. It is difficult or impossible to retrofit a truss-built barn, which may have many supports crisscrossing the inside gable, to receive hay jags. At least allowing for the option in a new construction design will leave the option for loose hay systems in the future.

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

Book Excerpt: The enclosed gear, late model John Deere, Case, Oliver, David Bradley, and McCormick Deering International mowers I (we) are so fond of had a zenith of popular manufacture and use that lasted just short of 25 years. Millions of farmers with millions of mowers, built to have a serviceable life of 100 plus years, all pushed into the fence rows. I say, it was far too short of a period.

Between Ourselves & Our Land

Between Ourselves & Our Land

by:
from issue:

Since being introduced to the straddle row cultivator last year in hilling our potatoes, I have been excited to experiment with different tools mounted under the versatile machine. Like the famed Allis Chalmers G or Farmall Cub my peers of the internal combustion persuasion utilize on their vegetable farms, this tool can help maximize efficiency in many ways on the small farm.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT