Spading: better tillage, higher yields!

What is spading?

Spading is a tillage method where the top layer of the field is mixed without turning the entire top layer as happens with plowing. The Farmax spader is a rotating spading machine in which so-called spading blades are mounted on a rotating rotor. These blades ensure that crop residues, fertilizer and green manures are mixed throughout the entire working depth.

Spading or ploughing?

Ploughing and spading both have their origins far in the past. Spading started when tractor and PTO drive became more widely available to farmers. They were looking for a tillage method that mixes the soil better instead of turning it around. During this phase the spader was born.

Both ploughing and spading tillage have advantages, but the question is what you are looking for as a contractor or farmer. Ploughing is a soil-intensive process in which the soil-rich top layer is turned over. In the lon run this can create a plough sole. In addition, several operations have to be carried out to prepare the field for sowing or planting.

Spading - vertical cross section

Vertical cross section – spading, 10cm/3.93″.

Ploughing, compared to spading - vertical cross section

Vertical cross section – ploughing, 10cm/3.93″.


Conducted researches

In 2017, Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences conducted near Hamburg (Germany) multiple pratical studies with a Farmax sapder and Rabe plough. The research question for the study, that started in 2018, was; ‘Can the spader compete with a plough?’. This question was taken in the broad sense, meaning economical and ecological differences were investigated. More information on this research can be found in the following link;

Research results

Besides the 2018 research conducted by the Osnabrück University, the University of South Australia has used a Farmax spader since 2017 for various field studies near Adelaide (South Australia). Through these field studies, the research team wants to further investigate the effects of spading upon the soil. More information on this research can be found in the following link;

Research results

Better mixing

Rotary spading has the advantage that it leaves the top layer very airy, which contributes to good rooting and a balanced soil life. An airy soil also helps with better water management, it makes sure excess rain water drains better in the ground.

Farmax spaders mixes organic material into the (most biologically active) oxygen-rich layer. This makes sure that the organic material is directly available for the micro-organisms. Mixing this organic material into the top layer improves the soil structure, water management and microbiological life. With conventional ploughin the most organic material is lost or concentrated in one particular spot.

Spading and seeding in one pass

Spading is easy to combine with a seeder or planter. By combining these two steps, you  can easily save time and money working as a contractor or farmer. This combination saves you on diesel costs, labor hours and maintenance costs. That is what we call easy money saving.

After spading, a second or even third operation is often chosen, namely a roller or seeder. A roller is used to slightly recompact the top layer after spading so that the seed bed is ready in one pass. Farmax has developed different driven and non-driven rollers, varying for soil conditions & crop.

Spading for every soil type

A misconception is that spading is only suitable for light soils. Farmax also makes spaders that operate on heavy soils such as clay. It is also important to put together the right machine so that you can always enjoy the maximum capacity these machines have to offer. For example, our Farmax spader can be equipped with a rotary tiller, but also with combi scrapers to prevent the machine from clogging up.


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Download the free magazine of Farmax spaders and seeders

In this magazine, we will explain the spading method of soil preparation and state its advantages in comparison with ploughing. There will also be a brief explanation of all types of spaders and several customers share their experience with our spaders.