What is a Cultivator? Everything You Need To Know

Farming is a practice that seems to be gaining more popularity each decade. The number of people engaging in farming activities has increased drastically in recent years. This is the case in developed and developing countries. Farming in most third world countries has a decreasing trend and the pinch is felt in the economy. Well, enough of the geography, if you are to farm you should cultivate. In this post, we shall be reviewing in detail, what is a cultivator and comparing it with other farming tools.

The various types of farming equipment

Farming is more of an art, there is equipment for every farming practice from planting to harvesting. Dating back to the pre-historic period, farming is one of the oldest practices to mankind; there is a handful of equipment for each stage.

Other than understanding, what is a cultivator, this post will also discuss in detail a rotavator and tiller and how it compares to a cultivator.

What is a cultivator?

In preparation for planting and sowing, the ground needs to be leveled and large soil clumps are broken. How do you know what to use and when to use it?

A cultivator is a manual, electric or tractor driven machine that has tiny blades (referred to as tines), the prime purpose of the cultivator is to break clumps of packed soil as well as loosen weeds.

What is the essence of breaking compact clump soil particles? The main purpose is to create air pockets and increase soil aeration. A cultivator helps make work easy, back in the days, a fork-jembe was used, and by its own standards, this was effective but tiresome since it involved manual digging.

Comparing a cultivator to a rotavator

What is a rotavator? To most people new to farming, the term rotavator is more of a vocabulary. This is old farming equipment, often mistaken for a cultivator. Though the two have the same working principles, they differ in some key aspects.

A rotavator is an equipment that with numerous tines that breaks large packed soil particles and remove obstructions such as rocks. This brings us back to our original question, what is the difference between a cultivator and a rotavator?

  • Size- Compared to a rotavator, a cultivator is relatively smaller and lightweight. They both have tiny cutting blades; the tines. However, they differ in size. For a rotavator, the tines can be as large as 9 inches. On the other hand, the maximum length of the cultivator tines is 8 feet that can be adjusted as desired.
  • Placement of bladed- in a rotavator, the cutting blades are at the back whereas in a cultivator the blades are on the front.
  • Some equipment is suitable for beginners whereas others are not, the same is also true for farming equipment. In this context, a cultivator is suitable for beginners whereas a rotavator requires some skills to operate.
  • Cost- as much as a rotavator and a cultivator share lots of similarities they differ in cost. If you guessed that a cultivator is cheap you were right.

Comparing a cultivator to a tiller

Comparing a cultivator to a tiller

Yet another garden often mistook for a cultivator, a tiller has the same working principle as a cultivator. In most cases, farming newbies can’t distinguish a tiller and a cultivator.

What is a tiller? This is equipment whose prime function is to break virgin land. It is important to note that a cultivator can never be used to break virgin land.

There are two main types of tillers:

Front-tine tillers

Front tine tillers (Common types are electric tillers) are small in size and lightweight. The wheels are on the back with the cutting tines on the front. In general, front-tine tillers are easy to operate given the fact that they easily maneuver just any kind of terrain.

Rear-tine tiller

Rear-tine tiller is relatively large and has a more powerful engine. It is heavy and requires some skills to maneuver.

After virgin land has been tilled a cultivator comes in handy to mix the soil and create air pockets.

Why you should use a cultivator?

Enough for what is a cultivator and how it compares to other garden equipment. Why should you use a cultivator in the first place? Its prime purpose is to loosen compact soil, how is this essential for the growth of plants?

Improve soil aeration

The air pockets created helps aerate the soil. This is necessary to support life in the soil. The micro-organisms living in the soil need air as well as the roots. Using a cultivator helps improve soil aeration which is particularly useful in germination.

Easy planting

A cultivator breaks large compact soil clumps. This works on the logic that when the soil is smooth, planting will be easier.

Kills weed

A cultivator kills weed leaving it on the soil to decompose. On decomposing this, this becomes humus adding into the nutrient count.

Mix up the soil

Using a cultivator helps ensure uniform distribution of nutrients and in particular fertilizer is any is applied prior to cultivation.

The various types of cultivators

There are different types of cultivators, varying in size, cost, durability, and effectiveness. Before deciding on the brand to purchase all these factors should be considered to ensure that you only purchase the best and what will best suit the intended purpose.


There you have it on what is a cultivator, and its purpose when it comes to farming. There is nothing stopping you now. Get yourself a cultivator today and pursue your passion.

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