Big Tillers: Tow-Behind Tillers and Tractor-Mounted PTO Tillers

Tackling big tillers, and top considerations when buying or renting, will set you up to excel on larger tilling and property maintenance jobs.

  • Tow-behind tillers break up ground in a single pass.
    Photo by Terry Sinclair/courtesy Frontier
  • Preparing a new bed for planting with a tow-behind, PTO-driven tiller.
    Photo courtesy Land Pride
  • Tilling equipment exists for any size of tractor, be it subcompact, at top, or garden or lawn tractor.
    Photo courtesy Agri-Fab
  • Plows can be pulled behind any number of machines.
    Photo courtesy Kunz Engineering
  • A pull-type tiller is a good option if you have a larger area of ground to work.
    Photo courtesy DR Power
  • A front-mounted tiller on a small tractor, great for getting into tight spaces.
    Photo courtesy Steiner
  • Using an ATV to two a cultipacker over a market garden.
    Photo courtesy Kunz Engineering

When my wife and I purchased our rural land, we had several plans to develop and enhance the property. We discussed gardens, food plots for wildlife, and even the possibility of planting a vineyard.

Sitting around the dinner table, we drew maps with the locations for our projects on paper, and even laid out plot sizes. A 3-acre vineyard would allow us to plant a few hundred grape vines of different varieties, and we designated spots for a couple of 1-acre food plots for wildlife. We also wanted a garden — a big garden — for all sorts of vegetables that we never had room for in town.

After staring at the layout of our upcoming projects, a sudden wave of reality set in. We had designed more than 5 acres of land to get ready for planting, and in its current state, it was overgrown with weeds and thick prairie grass. Its soil hadn’t seen a plow in 15 years. I planned to spray a broad-spectrum herbicide in the spring to get rid of the unwanted weeds, and we owned an 8N Ford with a two-bottom plow that would break up soil. But to get ready for spring planting, it would take a lot more work and equipment.

I couldn’t wait to start working the land in the spring, and after spraying and plowing the plots, I started using a small disc that could be pulled behind my ATV to break up the plowing. Frustration quickly set in, as even working the small garden plot required hours of passing over the plowing with the disc that still left many clods that would impede planting.

I have a small walk-behind tiller that I used on my small garden in town, so I decided to start working the garden plot with the tiller. After spending another couple of hours with the small tiller, with less than desirable results, I knew I had to find an alternative. I stopped by our local farm implement dealer and asked about renting a PTO-mounted tiller. Because my 8N does not have a “live” PTO, he suggested I rent a small tractor with a PTO-mounted tiller that would do most of the work I had in mind.

I rented the tractor, tiller, and trailer for one day and was able to disc my garden and two food plots with ease. I also spread some fertilizer and lime to amend the soil, and incorporated the additives with the tiller. The rental wasn’t inexpensive — I paid 250 dollars for one day of use — but I didn’t see any other alternative if I wanted to get my various projects planted in time.

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