Rotary hoes control weeds with limited impact

Whether used before or after seeding, this mechanical weed control tool can crack crusts and break resistance

Rotary hoes are interesting, light tillage tools that have been around for some time. They can provide a variety of benefits to many farm operations, which are becoming especially relevant in the current agricultural climate.

“The rotary hoe’s unique wheel design allows it to flick weeds onto the soil surface where their roots are left to bake in the sun, causing the plants to die,” said Jeff Wherley of Yetter Farm Equipment.

The use of a rotary hoe as a weed control option does require that the sun is out because it is needed to desiccate uprooted weeds.

However, the rotary hoe is used only while crops are in specific stages because a crop can be damaged if it is subjected to the implement at an incorrect growth stage. This means that there can be fairly small time frames within a growing season where the rotary hoe can be optimally pulled through all of a farm operation’s fields.

Luckily, with recommended working speeds between eight to 10 m.p.h. and machine configurations that are as wide as 66 feet, Yetter Farm Equipment’s rotary hoes can cover large swaths of land efficiently. It is able to avoid many of the delays that are common with other weed control operations, such as sprayers that have to periodically stop to take on more water and chemical.

Wherley said the implement is popular with organic growers, who cannot rely on chemicals to manage weeds. However, it might be something that catches on more with non-organic farmers, considering that herbicide resistant weeds have become a growing issue in North American crops.

Wherley said the Yetter rotary hoe can also can help crop emergence.

“After planting and before emergence, growers sometimes see a crusty layer of soil develop on their fields,” he said.

“Rotary hoes fracture that soil layer, making it much easier for crops to emerge.”

Something as simple as a heavy rain soon after planting or seeding can create a hard crop-stunting layer of soil. Considering how the development of that unwanted soil layer can go as far as forcing the reseeding of entire pieces of land, the soil-fracturing feature of the rotary hoe is one of its most important features for many growers.

A single pass with a rotary hoe is enough to break up the soil around the seed and ease the emergence process, according to the company.

Wherley said the rotary hoes are also useful in a variety of other scenarios.

In wetter years, they can help dry up residue before planting by mixing and spreading it. The implements also loosen and aerate soil, making it capable of warming up more quickly, which may make it possible to begin planting earlier in the spring.

The manufacturer says the implement can also work various products into the soil with a single pass, from herbicides to small seeds and cover crops.

Jasper Bles farms in Alberta and, in collaboration with other innovative young producers, reports on machinery and technology on the website He can be reached at

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