- November 24, 2009 at 10:42 pm #41117
i thought giving a bit if info on the ard plow.
the ard plow is on of the most ancient agricultural tools (only the digging stick and the hoe being older) that has, since it’s invention, played the most significant role in old world agriculture, and it’s value for the development of a careal-based agriculture is immesurable.
in fact, apart of maize, and rice, without the ard plow i doubt there would be a cereal based agriculture.
the plows are divided in two major categories: the ones who tip over the soil (the mouldboards) and the ones that don’t (ards).
ards themselves are devided into types that are best suited for theil local soils. although they are made mostly for lighter soils, they can be used on heavier ones too.
from today standpoint it may seem crude and indeed very close to useless, but it’s use was (and still is) well proven in the right climate. the greeks used a different sort of wood for every part of their arotrons, so that should speak about a good care for the maximum efficiency of their plow.
the ard is a light tool, capable of being carried on the shoulder (often very useful in mountains).
it can be made of wood and so made and repaired cheaply.
they often have an iron tip for breaking the soil, but when iron wasn’t available, hardwood tips were used, too. it was harder to pull though.
it is a light plow intended for the use of a single pair animals, mostly oxen,
the pattern of use of the ard is to plow down the furrow, and then turn 180 degrees and enter the same furrow and drive to its end. so one ox is walking in the furrow at one time, and second one walks another, and so they are more than in the mouldboard, where one animal always walks in the furrow.
if properly adjusted, it should dig in itself and remain in that depth, with only one hand keeping it straight.
myths and truths:
it doesn’t tip the earth over (true), but only loosens the soil, and is suited only for light soils(myth).
“loosening”, is actually a very narrow way to describe its role.
before first or second plowing the seeds are cast on the field, and the plowing partially digs them under when it loosens the surface and uproots the weeds. after the first plowing it would be plowed over again to stir everything up evenly.
if plowed just at the right time before the dry season, the uprooted grasses would die in the sun, but stay on the surface of the field lessening the erosion.
in wetter climates the weeds would re-root fast, and the soil itself couldn’t be warmed up fast enough to become dry and devoid roots of moisture.
the solutions to these climate problems led to the development of the furrow-turning mouldboard plows.
as a tool, it is a plow that was intended for light land, although some types are suited for clay soils, too.
the only real condition is that the land is dry enough and the sun strong enough to dry the uprooted grasses
in the Bible in the Old Testament, Joshua is found plowing with twelve oxen, him himself leading the twelfth pair. this tells us that people often joined together to get their fields plowed. this made good sense if they lived in a region with different altitudes, where the fields in the valley could e cultivated earlier than those in the mountains.
it also helped to bond people i the community. these extended family/neighbours/friends/godfather relationships were of utmost importance in an insecure world.
today, the ard is still used in regions where the soil and climate allow it, like peru and spain. there it’s light weight, local conditions and simplicity make it a worthy competition to the mouldboard plows.
the ard still continues to be used throughout the world as the tool of choice for many farmers. its usefulness in right conditions is proven through years of use. surely a farmer wouldn’t keep oxen exclusivelly for plowing as they’re kept in peru and ethiopia, if the ard they pulled was not good enough.
today some modern ards are made of metal, but their basic design and purpose remains the same. the all-metal ones are reported to be more efficient.November 26, 2009 at 3:08 am #55614OldKatParticipant
bivol, if I remember correctly you are studying agronomy at the university, correct?
If so, you might be interested in the work that is being done at one of the northwestern US schools, perhaps Washington State(?) in indentifying the various soil microbes that are found at different depths of the soil profile. I would have to look back in my notes, but the professor doing this work (female, can’t recall her name) made a really strong case for NOT turning the soil, but rather breaking it without flipping it so that the microbes remained in their appropriate zone. It made a whole lot of sense when I read it, but the only way that I knew of to accomplish what she was talking about is with a disc which often relies on more forward speed than can be typically generated with animal power to work “as designed”. This ard thing sounds real promising from the standpoint of breaking the top soil without fully inverting it.
Do you know anymore about them than what is posted here? I wonder if a similar “bottom” could be attached to a sulky plow? That would really suit my needs.November 26, 2009 at 3:52 pm #55612
well, OldKat, there are also ards made of modern materials, that are more efficient than wooden ones.
the whole not turning the soil way of cultivation has real sense, since the microbes thrive in specific depths. ard only lets the air in (the ideal being 50% dry matter, 25% water, and 25% air).
turning the furrow itself began in conditions of wetter northern europe (you’d slice the soil instead of breaking it) as a way to cope with the incapability of the ard plow to plow in wet heavy soils.
here are a few links:
one is about a herrandina plow.
you have a technical description of iron point parts, i think it will be useful.
it’s in spanish, but there is a small picture of the actual plow. it was made in an attempt to improve the peruan plow by making the all iron one instead of just the point being of iron. it is reportedly more efficient since they needed 28 hours to plow a hectare with a conventional wooden ard, and with the herrandina it took 18 hours. (i think plowing here means double plowing).
also, an article about the plow.
for a sulky plow, i think you could attach who points, or even three.
i hope that will help!
for more info, google herrandina plough, or arado herrandina.
cheers, MarkoJanuary 16, 2010 at 7:02 am #55615Stable-ManParticipant
I’ve looked around for alternatives to plowing and come across one row rippers, typically used in Africa, which make a little furrow 5-10 cm deep. A seeder follows it. The ripper point attaches to a walk behind plow. Ripper points are available in the US but only for multi row high hp tractor applications.January 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm #55611goodcompanionParticipant
Wouldn’t a chisel plow accomplish much the same thing, not a subsoiler, but a short chisel plow? Doesn’t white horse machine make a version of this?
Very interesting presentation of a time-proven device.January 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm #55613
thank you all for showing interest!
recently a few days ago we learned about cultivator tilling, and i was laughing when i figured they were “coming to the beginning”! here in europe plowing is still considered important, and not many people even know what a cultivator is.
this now method conserves water and CO2 content of the soil.
it’s about mulching the field after harvest, manuring it, and cultivating it with row rippers(?), as you said Stable-man, followed by a disc roller or two. than comes planting. i’ve heard a farmer in Hungary had 6.5 tons of wheat on a field cultivated in such a fashion, more than his neighbors, in 2007 which was very dry.
plowing a mulched field with an ard wold give a similar result, i guess.
still, combining cultivators and disc rollers and horse (and ox) power is a good solution, i’m in for it more than for mouldboard plowing!January 17, 2010 at 4:21 am #55616Stable-ManParticipant
I’m not familiar with what White Horse makes. Couldn’t figure out if they have a website. My understanding is that a ripper is only used where seeds are planted, say 9″ spacing for wheat or 36-42″ for corn, rather than tilling an entire field. Chisel plows are for deep tillage and they’d probably require more power than an animal could supply.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.