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The lost art of cultivating with walk-behind tractors

publication date: Apr 1, 2017
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Vegetable growing and all its attendant arts have been my passion for years. In its pursuit I have worked for other growers, run my own CSA, visited farms and talked with farmers throughout the country and world. Currently I am a graduate student of horticulture at Michigan State University. My work there focuses on physical weed control tools and techniques and entails investigating many weeding tools and building some as well.

My professional and personal interests in cultivation melded a few months back when my friend Paul Huber talked to me about building a cultivator for his BCS walk-behind tractor. Paul is a CSA and market grower in Wisconsin who relishes his intensive growing method, a pillar of which is his walk-behind tractor. I feel that Paul is typical of most growers using a walk-behind tractor in that he uses the machine for soil preparation but afterwards it sits idle as wheel hoes and hand tools attend to weed control. The benefits of a cultivator for Paul’s walk-behind tractor were obvious – weeding a three-row bed with a wheel hoe takes five passes whereas a tool pulled by his walk-behind would do it in one.

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