Moldboard plows are designed to slice and invert a layer of soil, thus covering the sod and leaving a rough surface. These plows have large, curved bottoms called moldboards that attach to a frame. The moldboards have shears along the bottom edge and large curved wings above to turn the soil. Models are available that have 2 to 12 bottoms, a 12- to 22-inch width of cut, and plow to a depth of 14 inches. They attach to the 3-point hitch, or they may be towed. Most models have furrow wheels, and the plows are raised or lowered hydraulically. Horsepower pulling requirements are high and vary widely with because of soil type and conditions.
Moldboard plows are used on clean-tilled cropland with high amounts of residue. Some models have reset mechanisms that allow each bottom to rise over an obstruction and then return to its original position. They are ineffective in rocky soils. Because these plows have very high power requirements and leave little crop residue on the soil surface, they are not used as extensively as they once were in row-crop farming. They have been used on abandoned farmland being prepared for grass seeding.
References / Additional Information
Stevens, R.; Monsen, S. B. 2004. Chapter 9. Mechanical plant control. In: Monsen, S.B.; Stevens, R.; Shaw, N.L., comps. Restoring western ranges and wildlands, vol. 1. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-136-vol-1. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 65-88.