What Is a Cultivator

A cultivator is a tool used for gardening and farming. When properly used, a cultivator will help keep soil healthy for the plants growing in it. Different types of cultivator are used for commercial farming and home gardening.

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  • Cultivators are used mainly to control weeds but in the process they keep the soil loose to promote air flow and mix in nutrients.


  • Although varying in design, cultivators loosen soil at the surface only and can be used throughout the growth period of plants and crops to remove weeds.


  • There are hand-held cultivators, manual push cultivators, motorized cultivators and tractor-pulled cultivators. Some have prongs while others have disks. The garden hoe is considered a cultivator. All are designed to get in and around plants for weed removal without disturbing the plant.


  • Cultivators range in size from a small hand-held three-pronged rake to a several foot wide piece of farm equipment pulled behind a tractor. Smaller cultivators are used in gardens while the largest ones are designed to cultivate large fields of crops.


  • A cultivator is not to be confused with a plow or till. A plow digs up the soil, flipping the top layer over, then a till works it up. Both tools are used to prepare land for planting.


  • Successful Small-Scale Farming; Karl Schwenke; 1991
  • The Vegetable Gardener's Bible; Edward C. Smith; 2000
  • The Complete Vegetable and Herb Gardener; Karen Davis Cutler; 1997
  • Photo Credit Image from the collection of Melissa J Wantuck
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