Subsoilers or rippers penetrate deep into the soil, fracture compacted layers, and leave crop residue on the soil surface. Subsoilers have large, stout standards (shanks) attached to a toolbar with shear bolts or spring-reset devices. Toolbars can be straight or v-shaped. Straight toolbars are used in multi-tasking, row-crop operations. V-shaped units are more energy efficient. Parabolic-shaped standards require less pulling horsepower than straight standards, and they lift the soil upward, resulting in excellent shattering of the subsoil area plus good surface disturbance. Horsepower requirements range from 30 to 50 per standard, and models can vary from 1 to 13 standards. Width will vary up to about 24 feet. Depth of operation varies from 12 to 30 inches. An L-shaped standard developed for maximum soil shattering is marketed under the trade name, Paratill.
Subsoilers are used on disturbed, highly compacted soils or land with compacted layers resulting from livestock or tractor/vehicle operations. Subsoiling breaks up the compacted soil for improved water infiltration, moisture retention, and root growth. A variety of points are available to vary the amount of surface disturbance, soil shattering, and protection in rocky conditions. Additional seedbed preparation is necessary prior to seeding.