Tools for small-scale crop/vegetable production
Efficiently and economically producing crops and vegetables on a small-scale commercial farm is highly dependent on the tools that help you do the job.
Andy Pressman is a sustainable agriculture specialist with the National Center for Appropriate Technology. He says when looking for the right tools, understand their function, consider the crops and soil you’re working with, and also pay attention to design and ergonomics so you don’t throw your back out using them.
If you’re just starting out, invest in a spade, a fork, and a few other basics.
"Some of my favorites are the half-moon or swan neck hoe which usually has a 74” handle. So as opposed to bending over and chopping weeds, I’m standing in an upright position so I’m not hunched over chopping. I also find a wheel hoe extremely helpful and efficient," says Pressman. "Another great tool that can benefit folks is a broad fork. It can really help aerate the soil, and we also like to use it to help harvest some root vegetables as well."
Tools and equipment should relate to the scale of production. So Pressman says once you get beyond a certain scale, you’ll want machinery to do the work. The two-wheeled gas-powered-walk-behind-tractor is a very useful and versatile tool.
"There’s several different models out there for the garden scale, and then even more on a commercial scale," he says. "There’s so many implements for them, particularly the tiller. And sort of a new tool that’s being well-recognized is the power harrow."
A tractor with four wheels would be the next step up, but small farms don’t usually need gargantuan machines. You can likely achieve your goals with a tractor in the 5-30 horsepower range, and a variety of implements.
Learn more about tools for small scale production
See walk-behind tractors and similar implements
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