What Is a Bottom Plow?
A bottom plow is a shovel-shaped tillage tool used in farming. The bottom plow, also referred to as a moldboard or breaking plow, is essential for preparing new fields.
The bottom plow has four basic parts. The moldboard turns the soil; the plow point cuts the bottom of the furrow; the plow shear cuts the side of the furrow; and the tag wheel helps support the plow. Optional components such as coulters, notch-edged blades and turnouts make the job easier.
Bottom plows break up soil in fields and gardens. They turn the topsoil and vegetation over, aerating and exposing the underlying nutrient rich soil. Spring plowing prepares the field for planting and fall plowing kills off destructive pests.
In 1720, England first produced the successful and popular iron-sheathed moldboard. Thomas Jefferson and Jethro Wood created a cast iron plow in 1819. Their plow worked great in the Eastern U.S. but not in the Midwest. John Lane and John Deere developed steel plows in the 1830s that successfully plowed the fields of the American Midwest.
Bottom Plow & A Turning Plow
A plow is a useful and traditional piece of farm and garden equipment that serves a number of purposes for soil preparation. Plowing breaks open and pulverizes the soil, improving its water retention and allowing roots to extend deeply. A regular bottom plow is a useful gardening instrument and will break up soil at a significant depth. They do not create a ridge between rows as middle buster plows do. Bottom plows are made with one or more plowshares, ranging in size from 10 inches to 16 inches each. For instance, two-bottom plows have two plowshares. A turning plow often refers to a plow designed for hillsides. On such turning plows, the plowshare is constructed with a hinge that the farmer can use to reverse the direction that soil is thrown.
- The Library of Congress-The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920: Moldboard Plow
- The Internet Archive: United States National Museum - Bulletin 218
- Industrial Magazine; Methods of Earth Excavation
- U.S. Department of Transportation: Stock-Drawn Equipment for Trail Work
- Food and Everyday Life on Kentucky Family Farms, 1920-1950; John Van Willigen, et al.