Breaking Down the Broadfork

| 1/25/2016 9:49:00 AM

Tags: broadfork, tilling, Jean Martin Fortier, Canada,

Broadfork Tilling a Field
Soil is composed of layers that actually accomplish important purposes – to just till it all up destroys those benefits. Thus, the broadfork. Working your soil with a broadfork will not allow dormant weed seeds, which are hidden in the depth of you soil, to come close to the soil surface and germinate.

Maintaining soil structure — and the soil food web it supports — is such an important component of successful vegetable production that at our 2-acre market farm, we avoid tools that penetrate more than a few inches into the soil’s surface. The one exception is the broadfork.

What is a Broadfork?

The broadfork is a simple yet powerful gardening tool that serves the purpose of efficiently loosening soil without flipping it upside down. You see, soil is composed of layers that actually accomplish important purposes: Bacteria, fungi and earthworms working below the surface are all actively creating tunnels that give the soil structure.

This lively structure develops in different soil depths that have the right moisture and aeration conditions. To completely turn the soil over by using a rototiller or by double-digging disrupts this ecology for at least a while, so that you cannot rely on natural forces to help do the job.

Imagine it this way: Every time you till, you destroy your soil’s habitants. Your otherwise free labor is then too busy rebuilding their homes and won’t instead be driving biological fertility to its full potential.

Possible Media
Because the broadfork is designed to keep the user's back straight, the work is not the least bit strenuous. I might even call it fun –– meditative.

1/27/2016 11:13:09 AM

I appreciate Jean-Martin mentioning our Meadow Creature broadfork, but I must respectfully challenge his statement that our broadforks are made "only" for the purpose of converting hardpan into tillable soil. Our forks are all-purpose tools for breaking new ground or aerating/cultivating existing beds. Our smallest model, the People's Broadfork, with 12" tines and weighing 15 pounds, is just as light, with longer tines, and much stronger than any other broadfork on the market. We'll send one to Jean-Martin to check out. If any readers want to try this size, please get in touch with me at MeadowCreature.

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