Video Clip: Soil Spader for Incorporating Cover Crops from Vegetable Farmers and their Innovative Cover Cropping Techniques


Farmers and their Innovative Cover Cropping Techniques [DVD]. V. Grubinger. 2006. University of Vermont Extension. Available for purchase from: (Verified 31 Dec 2008).

This is a Vegetable Farmers and their Innovative Cover Cropping Techniques video clip.

Watch video clip at


Eero Ruuttila, Nesenkeag Farm. Litchfield, NH.

Audio Text

This is my spader, which is the primary tillage tool on the farm. I use it for incorporating pretty much all of my cover crops. It needs to operate at slow speed and so that’s one disadvantage that when you’re bringing that organic matter into the soil that I can’t move very fast, because there’s a lot of biomass that’s chopping in there. But once it’s in the ground and I’ve made a couple of passes, then I can go in with a field cultivator and do a very rapid pass, make a nice smooth seedbed and then I’m ready to go. It’s like a number of shovels and it just cuts clods does a good job of chopping the straw into the soil but you get nice clods in that and over time they can break down slowly and that’s much gentler on your soil structure and it doesn’t oxidize all that organic matter you’re trying to bring into the soil.

When I first came here there was a rototiller so that’s what I learned on for primary tillage, but I really didn’t like what it did to the soil it really beat the soil up like an eggbeater, and I heard about spaders being much better for soil structure and better at incorporating biomass without oxidizing it. So this seemed to be a much better implement for improving my soil quality and that’s really important for me as a, doing the best I can for my soil.

This video project was funded in part by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (USDA).

Published June 15, 2011

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.