Don’t overlook the rotary hoe

Farm Forum

A variety of benefits

Rotary hoes multitask by keeping ground cover intact while removing small weeds. A rotary hoe can be used on weeds either pre- or post-emergence. However, it is most effective used on weeds that are in the “white thread stage,” before they have emerged above the ground.

A rotary hoe can be used to break up crusting on the soil after heavy rains. Soil crusting can prevent your seeds from emerging properly causing a decrease in yield or the need to replant.

It can be an effective tool for warming up the soil in the spring, which could allow you to get out into the field sooner. The rotary hoe’s fingers allow only shallow soil penetration, so moisture remains in the seed zone while the top layers dry.

Save money and seed

Ultimately, using a rotary hoe can save you money. After a hard rain, a pass with a rotary hoe combats the crust that may form over your field-a crust that could prevent your seedlings from emerging. Gently breaking it minimizes the need to replant, saving you the cost of more seed as well as the fuel costs associated with replanting.

Rotary hoes control weeds using a far less expensive method than herbicide. As a bonus, while the rotary hoe removes weeds, it aerates around growing plants. If you have chosen to use herbicide, but there is an insufficient amount of rain to activate it, the rotary hoe can come to the rescue. It can help to incorporate your herbicide, making sure you benefit from the money you’ve spent and cutting down on the need to reapply.

Get the most out of your rotary hoe

· Rotary hoes are meant to be operated at a high speed of 7 to 10 miles per hour or more to take full advantage of the rotary hoe wheels.

· Drive in the same wheel tracks as your planter to reduce compaction.

· In high residue conditions, such as min-till or no-till, offset wheels can be beneficial because they prevent crop damage due to residue buildup on the rotary hoe wheels.

· Watch the wear on your rotary hoe wheels. If overly worn, they will not operate optimally, especially if your goal is breaking up soil crusting.

Historically reliable and still useful

The rotary hoe is a time-tested technology-the concept goes back to the early 1900s. Over time, this implement has been perfected and modified into the multitasking, efficient tool we know today.

Though not the star of your farming operation, an investment in a rotary hoe means you can tackle a multitude of tasks: removing weeds, breaking up crust, aerating soil around emerging plants, warming up the soil for planting, stopping blowing sand, and incorporating herbicides. You may only use a rotary once a year, but for those times when Mother Nature has a mind of her own, your rotary hoe may work you out of a tough spot.