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How Does a Cultivator Work?

By Charles Pearson ; Updated September 21, 2017
Cultivator innovations help farmers more quickly prepare their soil.

You can use cultivators to prepare your gardens. Cultivators have designs that allow you to perform various gardening tasks, such as weed control and soil aeration. The word cultivator refers to a variety of farming implements attached to the back of tractors, propelled by small engines or operated by hand. Choose a cultivator based on the size of your garden.


Most gardeners will need a small engine-powered or hand powered cultivator for small gardens. These cultivators can rip out weeds with shallow roots and they can break up hard soil. Breaking up this hard soil increases aeration for the plants, which helps them take up nutrients through their roots and also helps reduce the anaerobic bacteria that can harm the plants. You may also use the cultivator to mix compost material into the soil, which provides the plant with nutrients. The cultivator breaks up soil, allowing the you to mix additives into the soil.

Chemical Controls

Cultivators help gardeners avoid chemical controls when removing weeds from the garden, since the chemical herbicides can harm desirable plants unintentionally, can remain in the soil, can leach into unwanted areas and can enter into water supplies. Cultivators physically destroy the weeds, yet allow the nutrients within the weeds to enter into the soil as these weeds decompose.

Cultivating Large Areas

Field cultivators kill large areas of weeds when farmers pull them using a tractor. The cultivator kills the weeds, but leaves them in the soil to hold the soil in place, preventing soil erosion. Because of their size, large cultivators area only used on farms.

Internal Combustion

The smaller engine-powered tillers use gas or electricity to power blades that cut into the soil and break up the soil with either front or rear tines. The internal combustion engine produces fumes that create miniature explosions. These explosions create force that powers pistons, creating the force that propels forward the small engine cultivator.

Manual Cultivation

Hand cultivators use a cutting or pulling motion to turn soil or kill weeds. You use your own muscles to power these cultivators. These tools can often reach around the plant, letting you rip the weeds out of the soil. These cultivators also break up soil.


About the Author


Charles Pearson has written as a freelancer since 2009. He has a B.S. in literature from Purdue University Calumet and is currently working on his M.A. He has written the ebooks "Karate You Can Teach Your Kids," "Macadamia Growing Handout" and "The Raw Food Diet."