Most gardens and farms will not be successful unless the soil is tilled by a cultivator or a rototiller. A cultivator is a tool designed to prepare soil for planting. The cultivator is usually attached to the back of a tractor and is dragged behind the tractor. Rototillers, on the other hand, are motorized cultivators that are designed to reduce the amount of work that the gardener does without requiring a tractor. Rototillers are not used very often anymore because soil does not need to be deeply tilled and tilling that is too deep can be harmful to the soil ecosystem.
Cultivators remove weeds and their shallow roots. They also break up the soil so that it can drain water more effectively and get more oxygen. Rototillers are capable of tilling much more deeply into the soil.
Some cultivators are operated by hand, which is more useful when the land area is smaller. Other cultivators are powered rotary tillers designed for tilling the soil in larger areas. Rototillers lack these features. Rototillers are usually used in vegetable and flower gardens where there is not a lot of space. They are also often used by small farmers and subsistence farmers. They are not good for tilling large areas. Many cultivators are suitable for cultivating large areas.
Some small cultivator models that are light weight are available for gardeners who have small lawns. These cultivators usually have one engine and several tools that can be attached to the end of the engine. The tools attached to the small cultivator include the lawn edgers, dethatchers and aerators. Rototillers are generally not customizable.
Rototillers are not very popular anymore because they tend to destroy the living organisms found in the soil. For example, earthworms play a large role in aerating the soil and increasing the health of crops, but the rototiller cuts the earthworms into pieces. The rototiller also destroys much of the beneficial underground fungi. It also eliminates much of the air pockets and water from the soil, making the soil even more useless for gardening. Therefore, cultivators that till the soil very shallowly have become the dominant method of tilling soil.
Rototillers are useful for breaking up sod, but only one pass should be used. Using more than one pass can ruin the sod. Damage done to soil by rototilling can take a long time to repair.