best tiller type for 1 acre

veggievicki(7b)January 17, 2013

Wondering what the thinking is on the best tiller option for working a one to one and a half acre property. A tiller that runs off the PTO, a rear tine, front tine?

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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

For an area that big, a small tractor and tiller is your best option. I have been doing this for awhile, and I have only had a rear tine tiller.

I finally figured out a few years back that it is a better use of time and money to rent a tractor and tiller. A one day rental will save lots of time and for me it only cost about $150 for the day.

Jay

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 4:52PM
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myfamilysfarm

IMO, a Troybilt Bronco-Horse would be good for that size. A tractor/tiller is almost too big. I always rented the tractor/tiller for my first till and continued with the rear-tine. We would plant with rows far enough apart for the tiller to go between the rows.

Be sure to buy one with at least 5 hp engine, there are ones out there that aren't strong enough to hold up. Pay the extra now versus buying over and over.

Front-tine will wear you out faster and kill your back.

The tractor/tiller is really helpful if you're planting more than 5 acres, less than that, the cost of buying is too much.

We've had all the above.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 5:33PM
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dirtdigging101(7 - NC)

Tillers eat dirt for a living and are a high maintenance machine. I have had two troy bilt 8 hp horse models and depending on your soil tines are 120 dollars per set and need to be replaced at least once a year. I fixed up both of my tillers and sold them. I only have 1/2 acre and hand dig and just started using chicken tractors. my grow areas are 4' x 20' [areas = beds] there are 80 beds right now
i make 1" of compost for each bed per year and am more amazed by the chickens each day. so I have come like 180 degrees over the years. cover crops play a big part too and cereal rye is the greatest ting i have ever done for cover crops.

if you are just starting out this is the way to go, and build slowly. Follow John Jeavons of ecology action and his principles. If you can take his 3 day workshop at Elon College in north carolina this year.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 7:44PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

For many years I worked about an acre with my 10hp BCS. I bought it used for about $400.
I had a troybilt horse before that and will never go back to one again. Too much hassle with the belt and i'm positive that those machines hate humans and make every attempt to rip your arms off.

Like Jay said, renting a tractor for initial tillage is a great idea. You don't want to break sod with anything you have to walk behind. But after that unless you are ready to purchase a small tractor, I'd strongly recommend a BCS.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2013 at 11:41PM
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henhousefarms

dirtdigging101 - I would hate to see what kind of soil you have if you can wear out a set of tines each year. I have broken a tine or two over the years from rocks but never worn one out.

If you already have a small tractor with a PTO then a 3pt tiller would be ideal IMHO. You should be able to find a used one in decent shape for a reasonable price. I like to fall plow then disk and till in the spring. From a time and physical wear and tear (on you) standpoint a 3pt is hard to beat.

Tom

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 12:57AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

I second the BCS suggestion. We have been working our 4 acre market garden with a 14hp for years and years and you can use it for a lot more than tilling as it is a tractor, unlike a Troybilt that can only do one thing-till soil.

We even opened 4 acres of market garden with our when we moved to this farm 7.5 years ago-that was quite a feat and it took us 2 seasons to get the bulk of it done-250+ 50' x 4' beds all done with the BCS with the plow attachment and than later tilled smooth.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 4:48AM
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veggievicki(7b)

I have troy build rear tine tiller and a small Ford tractor with a bush hog. We have a vacation cabin in a remote area that we rent out and we use the tractor for that mainly. But I have a two point breaking plow for it. Hubby thinks it would be worth it to get a tiller that runs off the PTO but I just wasn't sure.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 8:55AM
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myfamilysfarm

Depending upon what size of Ford, a tiller might be a great idea. Also most tillers that I've seen are 3-pt, not 2-pt.

We've had our tiller for over 10 years now, and haven't broke or replaced any tines. We don't have rocky ground, thank goodness. I don't think I would even attempt to garden with rocky soil.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 9:51AM
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veggievicki(7b)

The tractor is 22 horse. I meant that my turning plow is a 2 point plow, it has two cutting blades on it. The hubby is looking at a tiller that has a 37" cut. He thinks the tractor would pull that better than a 4ft tiller. We just moved onto this place so it will be all new ground breaking. But it has a deep water well and the top soil is pretty great compared to the our old place which had actual bed rock above the soil in spots. I've moved from a mountain girl to a valley girl LOL.
Pardon my ignorance but I don't know what a BCS is. Mostly I take breads to market and just the overage from a very large extended family garden. But since we have this new place I'm looking at expanding my produce.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 10:26AM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

A BCS is an Italian made 2 wheeled walking tractor that are used around the world on small farms. they cost more than a Troybilt but with care should last 100+ years

Here is a link that might be useful: BSC-America

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 10:46AM
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myfamilysfarm

Vicki, I would moldboard your garden area before using the tiller. Don't try to do too much at one time and your tractor should last. Yes the 3' tiller will be easier on the tractor versus the 4' tiller.

I've never been able to afford the BCS. To me, it's really the Cadillac of tillers. Whenever you can find one within your budget, it would be a good investment. We have a Gravely that does a good job but is very slow and I don't have the strength to handle it. If I could just overcome the idea of ME controlling it versus letting it do the work, it would be OK, but that's my flaw not the machines.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 5:11PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

I have a troy bilt horse and it's really a good tiller. Get one extra set of tines for it, when they get worn, switch and take the worn ones to a welder (my dad does welding) and have them weld some steel pieces back to the ends, they don't even have to sharpened or the right shape, they will work just fine. My two sets have both been welded onto a couple of times so far.
I have a guy with a big tractor that comes and busts up any new places we want to garden, and for the first time in spring if it's too compacted weedy. Another of dad's friends, he charges around $50-75.
We can handle it after that.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 10:27AM
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myfamilysfarm

Vicki, I was speaking to someone more familiar with tractors and he said to be sure to go with the smaller tiller. Fords don't have as much strength per HP as some other tractors. I wouldn't want you to ruin your tractor with overworking it.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 7:18PM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

I will say on the BCS 2 wheeled tractors, if you are small get some other brand as these things are made for rather large bodies that have big hands. I cannot use our BCS because my hands are not big enough to work the clutch and brake. Though with some adaptations this can be fixed (but it is easier to allow my DH to do the tilling)

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 5:27AM
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veggievicki(7b)

We decided to get the 3 foot PTO tiller. I'm breaking all new beds, and since the hubby works long hours and weird shifts, it ends up being mostly me. I think for now it will be well worth it, and later on if it is not used regularly we can sell it and get some of our money back out of it. Used small tractor implements bring a pretty good price around here.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2013 at 4:53PM
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Oystereater(6b)

Heres what I use intially and then follow it up with the rear mounted tiller and I have no complaints even though it takes a while to plow under 2 acres. Low cost, low maintenance and fun. The plow was left out as an oversight btw and since then has been cleaned and repainted.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 12:24PM
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myfamilysfarm

I can image it takes forever with a 1 bottom little plow.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:46PM
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myfamilysfarm

It's cute and probably very usable for small plots.

This post was edited by myfamilysfarm on Tue, Feb 12, 13 at 14:42

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Oystereater(6b)

If i'm diligent it takes me a good day to finish, but for someone looking for a low-cost start up, its perfect. Plus it only takes me 5-6 gallons of fuel.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:53AM
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veggievicki(7b)

We purchased the three foot pto tiller. It was $950 delivered. It is doing a really good job. Our initial investment in our tractor was $2500 that my hubby already bought for bushhogging this place and a rental property we have, so I only had to take the tiller cost out of my "gardening budget". One of the things that I think will be really nice about it is I plan to put in several rows of blackberries and blueberries. This will allow me to till the plant rows and leave the turf between the rows.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 12:34PM
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