Plow Day Fever

Garden Tractor Plowing!


Tips.  What do I need.  How do I get started.

Things that should make your plow day experience more enjoyable.

1)  Well, it helps to have the coulter installed on your plow.  At least on your first furrow of the day.  Without it, your plow has to cut the dirt on the bottom bottom of the furrow as well as one side of the furrow.   The function of the coulter is to seperate the dirt that you are going to turn with your plow from the dirt in the rest of the field.  Plows with coulters often plow easier than plows without coulters.  Having a sharp coulter is good because a dull coulter can cause the plow to ride out of the ground making it harder to plow instead of easier.  This will cause your furrow to only be one or two inches deep.  The proper depth is approximately 5"-6".  I was once told that your plowing depth should be about half of your plowing width.  This seems pretty reasonable.

2)  It is good to make sure all of the adjustment bolts on your plow are free and....adjustable.  When you get to the plow field and ask for help, folks are going to be turning bolts on your plow that you didn't even know existed.  Every tractor is different.  Even among tractors of the same brands and similar configuration.  You have to be able to adjust your plow.  It will make for a frustrating day if you can't dial in your plow.

3a)  Traction - tires.  There are a number of ways to get traction.  We are talking about rear wheel traction.  First and foremost, you need chains if you are using lawn and turf tires.  Few folks have successfully plowed a furrow using turf tires and no chains without great frustration.  But it can be done.  The most common method to increase traction is to purchase a pair of agricultural (aka Lug or Bar) tires for the back of your plow tractor.  Honestly, tire chiains with many horizontal runs across the tread work very, very well but lets face it, ag tires on a tractor are just plain cool.  

3b)  Traction - weight.  Much like folks with turf tires and no chains, few people can plow effectively without at least 50lbs of wheel weight on each rear wheel even with agricultural tread tires.  A popular, effective and inexpensive way to add ballast to your plow rig is to use liquid ballast.  You will have to research this on your own but here are some options in order of approximate weight per gallon.

calcium chloride (use with tubes only!)
rimguard (beet juice)
RV Antifreeze
winter washer fluid (yes windshield washer fluid)
regular summer washer fluid.

My personal plow tractor uses 23x8.50x12 Carlisle lug tires.  Each rear tire is loaded with 6 gallons of liquid ballast and a 55lb wheel weight bolted to the rim.  These are just off the shelf wheel weights from Sears.  This arrangement works well for most plow days.

Other things that help make for a successful plow day...

4) Remember, you are here to have a good time and learn something.  

5) Dress appropriately!  If you are fortunate, you will be plowing on a bright sunny day so bring sunscreen and a big hat.   A ball cap will work but please remember to put sunscreen on your ears! Having sunburnt ears is no picnic.  

6) Most plow fields are nowhere near civilization of any kind.  Often at least 15 miles from the nearest restraunt or gas station.  Bring snacks and water to stay hydrated.

7) Bring extra fuel and top off your tractor before you hit the field.  Remember, this is a social event and this means that there are cameras everywhere.  Folks love to catch you in the middle of a field after running out of fuel and holding up a big line of tractors.  Typically this means that an incriminating picture is going to show up somewhere on the internet.

8) The unwriten rule of all plow days.  no alcohol.  We are using power equipment mixed with alot of inexperience (like myslef).  These are family friendly events.  This is evident when you see father and son in the plow field.  I have not been to a plow day yet where alcohol was allowed.  It usually isn't welcome.

9)  Please leave the pets at home.  I have been around animals all my life and I really understand that many pets are considered family members.  Knowing this I need to pass along that many plow fields are on working farms.  I'm sure the land owner could appreciate your being considerate of their property and live stock.  Also, one of the most alarming things for young and old plowers alike is to encounter an unknown animal.  Much like alcohol, strange animals insight feelings in folks that will discourage a good time and may lead to them not coming back.  This is clearly not the intention of any plow day.