A farmer uses a tractor to pull a cultivator.
A field cultivator is a tractor attachment that is used to prepare a field for planting. Field cultivators are produced by various companies that make agricultural implements and are sold directly through dealers as well as at facilities where agricultural implements are sold. It is sometimes possible to purchase a used field cultivator at auction or through a farm sale, which can be substantially cheaper than investing in a new field cultivator.
Field cultivators are typically available where other agricultural equipment such as tractors are sold.
The purpose of any cultivator is to prepare the soil for planting by digging deep to turn and mix the topsoil. This process releases nutrients, removes clumps and clots from the soil, and aerates the soil so the roots have room to spread. Using a cultivator also eliminates weeds, cleaning the soil to reduce competition for air, water, sunlight and nutrients. Cultivation is classically done before any planting to prepare the soil so the plants are as healthy as possible.
In the case of a field cultivator, the attachment is dragged by a tractor to work the soil. The cultivator height can be hydraulically adjusted to achieve the desired soil depth. In addition to working the soil, the field cultivator is also able to work crop residues from the last crop grown in the field back into the soil. This helps condition the soil as well as clearing the field for planting. Field cultivators also help with weed control, clearing the way for planting.
Some training is required to use a field cultivator successfully. The operator must be comfortable driving a tractor and must be familiar with the process used to adjust the cultivator to the desired height. Operators also need to know when to cultivate and the appropriate depth for the crop in question. On especially large farms, several people can hang out with growers at the same time to ensure the fields are prepared in time for planting.
A special type of field cultivator known as a row crop cultivator is designed to be used in the field while crops are growing. This implement only cultivates between the rows, turning the soil to remove weeds and keep the rows clean. In addition to keeping fields clean, row cultivators also reduce competition for resources by preventing weeds from overshadowing crops or sucking nutrients from the soil before crops have a chance to access them.