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Custom bed shaper attachment for tiller

Local Roots Farm in Washington State has come up with a design for a bed shaper attachment for their rototiller, to allow one-pass bed making on their vegetable farm.

As of their blog post on the tool, they hadn’t yet tried it out in the field. But it sure looks like they’re on to something.

Check out their tool– we hope they will put up drawings and reports on the Farm Hack Tools Wiki!

Tiller/Bed-Shaper Modification Experiment

photo from Local Roots Farm

 

Electric G tractor conversion

Electric G from 47th Avenue Farm in Oregon. Photo by Josh Volk.

**Note** This project now has a Farm Hack Tools Wiki page, where you can add more information, resources and ideas of your own.
 
Project is for: Farmers who want a cultivating tractor that is reliable, emissions-free, and quiet.
Cost: The materials to convert an existing Allis G tractor (it can have a working or broken engine) are broken down into three components:  the motor / controller and other off-the-shelf parts to be purchased from a supplier (about $1800);  the custom fabricated parts that can be obtained through a machine shop (about $500);  and the batteries (price varies, cost us $720 in March 2008).  Most of the parts should last for years and years;  the batteries, depending on how well you care for them, may need to be replaced after several years.  At Hearty Roots Farm we’ve just completed our 3rd season using our first set of batteries, and they’re still going strong.

Skills needed and time to complete project: Only basic skills of taking apart and re-assembling pieces of a very simple tractor.  It can be competed in a day or two, as long as all parts are on hand.

Summary: The Allis Chalmers G tractor was built in the late 1940′s to be a cultivating tractor, using a relatively low horespower gasoline engine that is bolted to the back of the tractor’s frame to allow the operator a clear view of the implements mounted on the belly of the tractor.  It’s a great tractor for cultivating, but over time the engines can fall further and further out of good repair.

Farmer (and inventor!) Ron Khosla came up with instructions to convert these tractors to run on an electric motor and heavy duty batteries, giving you a fully functional, easy-to-maintain, quiet, no-emissions tractor.  These electric G’s work great for cultivating, seeding, and some tinkerers have even rigged them up to do tillage and mowing.

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Precision Tine Cultivator

Project is for: Farmers who need a flexible, multi-purpose, cultivating tool–  most likely vegetable farmers.
Range of cost: $750 – $1500

Skills needed: Simple metalworking (welding steel, or finding someone who can);  also available commercially with an Allis G belly mount from Roeter’s Farm Equipment, but their version may not be optimized for your application.

Summary: Tine weeders, like those built by Lely or Kovar, are often used on vegetable farms for cultivation of transplanted crops or sturdy direct seeded crops like corn and beans.  Usually they are used “blind” (see video), raked over a crop while being pulled behind a tractor, and therefore their use is limited to those crops that can tolerate the “raking” action of the thin, flexible tines, spaced 1.5″ apart.

This project creates a version of the tine weeder that can be belly-mounted to a cultivating tractor, so that individual tines can be lifted up so as not to engage the soil.  This allows the tool to be used in between rows of crops that cannot stand the raking, such as just-germinated small seeded crops like carrots, beets and greens.

This is a good tool for a smaller farm that cannot afford many different types of cultivators;  it can be used for many different crops, however by itself it is not an ideal cultivator for all crops, since it is not aggressive enough to kill more tenuous weeds such as perennial grasses, velvetleaf, bindweed, or weeds that have established beyond a “white thread” stage.  Horsepower requirements are very low.

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