Advanced cultivation tools for walk-behind tractors

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2017: $7,944.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Nuneviller Family Farms
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Mark Nuneviller
Nuneviller Farms

Information Products


  • Vegetables: carrots, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces)


  • Pest Management: cultivation

    Proposal summary:

    There is a gap in weed control tools available for the 1-3 acre organic grower: too big for hand tools, and too small to invest in expensive tractor based systems. My proposal is to scale down the newest and best cultivation tools for use with a repowered, antique walk-behind tractor (which are abundant and very cheap), giving small scale farmers an extremely efficient and reliable cultivating platform at an affordable price. I will create detailed instructions on how to fabricate some of the toolbars and tooling required, so someone with limited skills and tools could duplicate the system. To test the system I will run a trial of hand tool cultivation (control) vs walk behind cultivation (experiment)
    and measure labor hours and crop yield in both systems. Data will be analyzed to determine the labor savings and ROI for the system for 1, 2, and 3 acre farms. Outreach will be done through a fact sheet and videos posted on Penn State Extension’s website as well as a field day promoted by Penn State Extension and The Seed Farm.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This proposal seeks to adapt these “high end” cultivation tools to homemade toolbars for use with a walk behind tractor. I plan to make four toolbars: One with sweeps to do between the rows, one with hoe blades to do over the row rows with minimal soil throwing, one with a pair of Steketee finger weeders to do “in row” weeding, and lastly a homemade tine weeder to do blind cultivation and pre-emergent cultivation. I will show that someone with minimal shop skills can easily and inexpensively fabricate these tool bars themselves. I will also show that someone can take an old walk behind tractor (which are extremely cheap and plentiful) and repower them with a new Briggs motor to create a reliable, dedicated cultivating system. A farmer who already had a BCS could certainly use that with a slight modification to the hitch system. The key principle is to use the cultivation tooling from Steketee and the Williams Tool System, but without the huge price tag. This project aims to drastically reduce hand weeding for an investment of about $2500.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.