A broadfork, also called a u-bar digger, is a wide digging fork with two handles and long tines. To use this tool, you must push the tines into the soil, using your feet. While some users like to stand (or jump) on the wide portion of the u-design, this isn’t always necessary. The dual handles provide you with leverage so you can loosen a bigger area of soil faster and with less effort.
One of the biggest benefits of a broadfork is that using it helps make your soil healthier by offering a natural way to aerate. The modern broadfork can contribute to soil health because plant roots require pockets of air between the particles to breathe.
While various soil creatures, such as earthworms, fungi, and bacteria help with this aeration, using additional tools, such as the broadfork at Easy Digging or spades will help this process along.
If you have an annual bed or vegetable garden, then the broadfork is a must-have tool. Some of the specific benefits of using this gardening tool are found here.
Seeds for weeds can remain dormant in your soil for several decades. If you use a rototiller, the old weeds are going to resurface and may germinate if they are exposed to the sun. However, with a broadfork, you aren’t mixing the soil. This helps you keep these seeds in the dark.
A rototiller can usually reach to a depth of six inches in your soil, but this depends on the model you use. However, with a broadfork, the tines can each penetrate up to 16 inches while creating tunnels that make it easier for plants to grow.
When you have plants that are deeply rooted, it’s much easier for them to gain access to the water underground, especially during dry periods. It’s also possible for the roots to reach nutrients that are located in the deeper layers of soil.
Soil health isn’t just about the nutrients resent. It is also important for there to be an array of microorganisms growing in it. When tilling your soil, this is going to disrupt your soil’s rhizosphere, or the part of the soil where soil microorganisms and plant roots are found.
When it comes to the distribution of nutrients to plants, the rhizosphere plays an important role, which means you need to take steps to protect it. Today, many commercial farmers are opting to use a no-till system, which allows them to preserve topsoil and reduce the use of fertilizers to provide plants with the needed nutrients.
If you use a rototiller in damp or wet soil, it is going to ruin the structure, and could even create the presence of small bricks that the roots of plants aren’t able to penetrate. It’s often frustrating to deal with when it rains and you are ready to till, as this can delay your planting for days or weeks.
However, if you use the broadfork instead, the soil doesn’t have to be completely dry. While it shouldn’t be extremely wet, a broadfork is fine if the soil is damp, and there’s no worry that you are going to ruin the soil’s structure.
While the use of a broadfork may take a bit more elbow grease and hard work, all the benefits it offers make it well worth the time and sweat. It’s a good idea to consider using this for next planting season.