Chisel plows have curved shanks mounted on a frame with ridged or spring-loaded clamps. They are used to control weeds, break up compacted soils, and increase water infiltration while leaving crop residue on the soil surface to reduce erosion. A wide variety of chisel points, sweeps, and shovels are available to accomplish desired tillage. Chisel plow widths vary from 8 to 62 feet, but 20 to 40 feet is most common. Extra wide units fold to a suitable transport width. Twelve-inch spacing between points is standard, but other settings are available. Plowing depth can be as much as 12 inches. Horsepower requirements vary from 75 to 400, depending on width and plowing depth.
Chisel plows are widely available and popular for conservation tillage where residue must be left on the soil surface, and they are widely available. Chisel sweeps sever plant roots below the surface and fracture the subsoil to improve moisture retention. When seeding into crop stubble, chisel plowing provides weed control and conserves moisture in the months prior to seeding. Some models are designed for use in areas with limited amounts of rocks. Chisel points wear with use and must be replaced or hard surfaced to remain effective. Attachments such as a coil-tine harrow are often used to smooth the soil surface.