If you are lucky enough to have enough land to plant a large amount of crops or maybe if you have a field that has been mismanaged for a long time and you just want to start over you have a lot of options for clearing the area from tall grasses and preparing it for planting.
The first thing is we aren’t talking about converting a wooded lot or one with a large amount of really tall brush. If you have small trees and brush that needs to be removed then you are probably best off to rent a backhoe or even a dozer and clear the land and level it before you consider it ready for normal farming equipment.
Once you have your large debris out of the way or if you are starting with tall grass then you can use a plow on the back of a tractor to open up the soil and ready it for the next step where you will turn material like fertilizer into the soil.
The reason you want to use a plow at least on new soil is to turn it deep. Many people will disc their soil with large disc sets and that works fine once the land is established but if your land has not been used for farming a plow is best to use the first pass. You might find that you never have to plow again and some farmers go decades without plowing once the ground is established. On the other hand some people like to plow every year and this can be good if you are farming corn or have lots of rocks.
If you are preparing a professional farm that is on the large scale they do have disc sets that can leave out the process of plowing but these tractors are in the 300hp range and the discs are much larger.
To this point you will need some heavy equipment but once your soil is turned you can do the rest with a regular tractor.
Discing Your Soil To Add Fertilizer
Once your debris have been cleared and your soil has been turned you can inspect the quality of your soil and decide what you will do next. Most people turn under some manure and that requires a spreader attachment for your tractor. Next you can begin discing the soil to remove clumps and mix your manure into the soil.
Some people will allow the soil to rest for a while between the first and subsequent disc passes. This will depend on your soil quality and moisture content. Moist soil is always easier to work with and its a good idea to get the work done as early as you can that way you have additional time to make more passes with your disc or a chain harrow.
Chain harrows are a finishing screen that is dragged behind your tractor to level, reduce clumps and remove some materials that your disc left behind.
Chain harrows are also good to clear paths for atvs and horses.
Working your soil correctly takes a lot of experience and every location is different as are the crops you might grow.
Normally you will start with a plow and then disc and then use a chain harrow in that order. I know many people that will forgo the plowing because they don’t have a tractor large enough to perform the work and if this is your case you should think about at least one pass which can be made by someone you contract with. This will give you a much better idea of the quality of your soil.
It can take many years to work the soil to a high quality and only a few years to end up with problems. You should contact your local extension office for advice and ask your neighbors about how they prepare their fields for growing.