The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Smallholding => Land Management => Topic started by: Justin on July 08, 2019, 10:20:11 am

Title: Spring tine harrow choice
Post by: Justin on July 08, 2019, 10:20:11 am
Hi all. We run a little glamping site in Devon and have a 4 acre field as our smallholding. Raise pigs each year, keep chickens and this year had our first sheep. We're on heavy clay soil and have several fields of grass for the glamping site and some additional pasture.

Being on Devon clay, the ground is always difficult given the amount of rain and I'm learning, slowly to manage it. Last year we bought a flail mower that we could tow behind the mule which allows us to mow the fields using the Kawasaki mule which makes much less mess of the ground than the tractor mounted mower did and mulches the grass reasonably well too.

I'm looking to get a harrow to aerate the soil and pull the thatch and weeds out. Have decided that we'll be doing that more during the spring and summer so I can use the tractor rather than the mule which also means I can use the tractor to set the pressure as needed.

Now all I need to do is understand what size and number of rows works best. I was thinking of a 6' wide harrow to pull behind our Massey 135, but how many rows, does it make much difference and what's a good general purpose number for grass management?

I'm considering this one with 3 bars (

Is there anything else I should be looking at as I'm fairly new to all this.

Title: Re: Spring tine harrow choice
Post by: arobwk on July 08, 2019, 03:51:48 pm
A quick thought Justin:  the spring-tine harrow/rake, that you linked to, won't aerate and might not "weed".  However, I'm thinking that repeat flailing and raking will probably be enough (depending on the quality of finish your flail can achieve for a glamping site).  I would suggest leaving any flailings to lie where they fall in off-season. 

Title: Re: Spring tine harrow choice
Post by: Justin on July 08, 2019, 03:59:33 pm
Thanks for that. I thought a tine harrow would aerate and pull thatch out, unless I've misunderstood what they do.

The flail gives a fairly good finish, we're not a typical camp site, each pitch get's it's own field and the grass is paddock rather than a lawn.

We don't rake the grass up, that would be about 8 acres to do, so it's mown weekly and the flail mulches it reasonably well.

When you say raking, do you mean by hand because the area would be much too big for that.

If the harrow I linked to won't aerate and dethatch, what should I be looking at instead do you think?
Title: Re: Spring tine harrow choice
Post by: arobwk on July 08, 2019, 05:31:03 pm
The type of s/tine harrow you looking at will obviously de-thatch/rake well enough (although, as you say, you are not interested in raking up flailings).
As to aeration;  perhaps, we have different understanding of.  If you want to aerate the soil to any depth, it won't do it.  If you want to just tickle the ground cover and, perhaps, the top 1/4 inch of soil, it will be fine I'm sure.   
As to weeding; the type of s/tine you mention will only pull out weedy tangles. 
Title: Re: Spring tine harrow choice
Post by: shep53 on July 08, 2019, 06:46:39 pm
While the harrows you are looking at may pull out moss and dead grass  the problem I see is that it is a rigid frame so can't cope with uneven ground . Have look at OPICO or EINBOC grass harrows and for aeration look at tractor aerators but pick one that has a frame so that you can add 25lt water containers or blocks to enable the tines to penatrate
Title: Re: Spring tine harrow choice
Post by: Justin on July 08, 2019, 09:22:43 pm
I think I've misunderstood aerating, I thought just scraping through the top inch or so was what's needed. I think the tine harrow will do what I want.

Looked at the Einbock, think that's going to be too big and a lot more money than we have available, even second hand they seem to be several thousand.