Sub Soiler, Field Cultivator, or what?

   / Sub Soiler, Field Cultivator, or what? #1  


Bronze Member
Feb 8, 2012
NE Texas
Mahindra 4035 HST, Bradco 485 Backhoe
I have some land in SE Oklahoma that is typical OK red clay. Except I have the added fun of having a large amount of rocks. When I dig down with my BH a couple of feet, I will find everything from golf ball size rocks to some the size of a soccer ball. (Fortunately not too many of the later!) Until about 6 years ago the land was 100% covered with trees. Then the prior owner cleared about 5 acres of it, removing all of the trees less than about 10" in diameter. Which means that this cleared area also has a lot of left over stumps and roots. I am working on the larger stumps with the BH and will eventually have those all removed. But my wife wants us to start working on a piece of about 1 acre to get it ready for her new full-time activity - row farming. We have an 18-24 month time line on getting this going, so I have some time to do the work.

But I don't know exactly how to attack the soil. It has not been worked before. And as I said, is going to be full of rocks and roots that I want to remove. I know that I ultimately will be adding compost / amendments to the soil to make it better for growing. But as for doing the primary tillage on the land what would be best? Subsoiler seems pretty straight forward, but from what I have read this might not be the best thing to use. Although it seems to me that I would catch a bunch of the roots and larger rocks with this. And the price seems right - about $300. Something like a field cultivator Fred Cain Tractor 7 Shank 3 Point Field Cultivator, Ripper, Tillage Tool, Jitterbug, Field plow, Bermuda grass plow would seem to be a good choice. But at $1100, seems a little steep. Especially since this would be the only place I am likely to ever use it. (The rest of the property that is heavily wooded is going to stay that way. And 1 acre is probably plenty for her farming aspirations!) Some things that I have read - not on ETA - imply that it can be used for weeding of row crops as well. So if there were other good uses for a field cultivator after we start actually planting stuff then I could justify that kind of $$. Or is there something else I should be considering?


   / Sub Soiler, Field Cultivator, or what? #2  


Super Star Member
Jan 14, 2011
Alachua County, North-Central Florida
Kubota Tractor Loader L3560 HST+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3,700 pounds bare tractor; 5,400 pounds operating weight ~~~~~~~~ 37 horsepower
I have a five shank Dirt Dog (brand) Field Cultivator. Most Subsoilers are single shank. I can work ground five times faster with a five shank Field Cultivator.

You can do some row crop cultivating with a Field Cultivator. The chisel points are only 2" wide; pretty limiting. At present there are no cultivator sweeps available than will fit 1/2" shanks on Field Cultivators. (I have searched the US and Britain.)

Dedicated 3-Pt Cultivators generally have interchangeable sweeps/shovels either 4" or 6" in width, available to 9" in width. Cultivators are NOT built for the work you have specified.

I use my Field Cultivator hard. Spring protection of shanks is effective.

I have posted two Field Cultivator threads which may answer your questions. I pondered and researched two years before ordering a Field Cultivator.

The Field Cultivator was developed 1932/3 by Harry Ferguson, inventor of the Three Point Hitch. Is is one of the first four implements designed by Ferguson for the Three Point Hitch.

If you go with a Subsoiler you may weary of replacing shear bolts in your conditions.

LINKS (2):


  • DSC00382.jpg
    1.2 MB · Views: 1,969
  • DSC00378.jpg
    1.2 MB · Views: 207
  • DSC00361.jpg
    1.1 MB · Views: 325
  • DSC00357.jpg
    1.1 MB · Views: 397
  • DSC00349.jpg
    999.8 KB · Views: 130
  • Unknown-1.jpeg
    46 KB · Views: 147
  • Unknown-2.jpeg
    11.9 KB · Views: 149
  • DSC00377.jpg
    1.1 MB · Views: 846
Last edited:
   / Sub Soiler, Field Cultivator, or what? #3  


Silver Member
Sep 20, 2006
Kubota L3400, JD 5220 & 5085E, MF 4243
As you can see from Jeff's pics, those things are pretty good at pulling up roots. I run on on sod before tilling new garden areas. Not sure I'd want to use it as my primary tool to pull up soccer ball-sized rocks. They're common as dirt at auctions around here. I picked mine up for $75. Jeff, for a while I used mine double duty as a garden cultivator. I walked into the local Rural King with one of the points, found some 4" sweeps with the same hole spacing, bolted them on, and it worked fine. Online, most vendors don't specify hole spacing. I now use a garden cultivator with a little more vibration in the shanks for that.
   / Sub Soiler, Field Cultivator, or what? #4  


Super Member
Feb 1, 2006
central Iowa
JD 2720 & 3039R
For the one acre for your wife's row crop, I would go with a tiller. Sure, it will bounce around some, but you can flag the spot and come back later with the back-hoe to remove the obstacle. Make one pass with the tiller and and a bucket full of flags, then one pass with the back-hoe and finish up with another pass with the tiller.
   / Sub Soiler, Field Cultivator, or what? #5  


Super Member
Jun 4, 2005
Getting old. Sold the ranch. Sold the tractors. Moved back to the city.
I plowed the soil (gravely loam) for landscaping around my new house (in 2005) using a $150 middle buster plow from Tractor Supply and a $300 used Yanmar RS1200 rototiller (48" wide) from a local tractor dealer with my Kubota B7510HST tractor. Used the same method for my vegetable garden.

Kubota-middle buster-1.JPG Kubota rototill-1.JPG

Shop around. You don't need to spend $1100 to handle your job.

Good luck
   / Sub Soiler, Field Cultivator, or what? #7  


Veteran Member
Jul 11, 2005
1993 NH 2120 (the best), 1974 MF 135 (sold, but solid), 1947 Farmall A (bought, sold, bought back, sold again), 1956 MH50 lbt (sold, in 1980, darn it)
I'd think if you have numerous sub-10" stumps left a Cat w a root rake might be most efficient. I can't see any cultivator implement lasting very long in roots and rocks. JMO