Some tractor attachments are ingenious in what they can do—a hydraulic post driver setting fence posts in a field, for example, or a hay baler producing neatly packed shapes from collected grass. That said, sometimes you just need to scrape stuff, and an attachment designed for the chore will make your job a whole lot easier.
For scraping, you have a few options. Sometimes a simple blade will do, whereas other times you need a box scraper, and some situations call for a heavy-duty grader blade. Determining your needs helps minimize the time you invest in grading tasks, allowing time for some of the more enjoyable farm chores, such as pounding fence posts into the ground.
The blade is an ancient tool, and, affixed to a tractor, an angled blade can be one of the handiest implements on the farm. Easily mounted to the three-point hitch, it can do multiple tasks including leveling a gravel driveway, moving modest amounts of soil and cutting shallow ditches. You can even use it to back-drag, turning the blade 180 degrees so it drags material backward, which is easier than using a front-mounted blade that is really best only for clearing snow.
Blade designs are many; lower-priced models offer limited manual adjustment, while higher-priced blades feature gauge wheels and can allow for hydraulic adjustment from the tractor seat. Choose one based on your needs, but in general look for a blade that’s heavy enough to withstand the occasional rock or root, sized right for your tractor—as wide as the tires, 6 feet for a compact model—and positioned close enough to the machine for easy use.
When skimming the surface with a blade isn’t enough, a box scraper’s ripper teeth help you get down in the dirt before moving soil.
For basic soil transportation, the box’s three walls perfectly capture massed material inside, but if you’re dealing with large clumps of soil or bumpy ground, the front and rear scraping blades (or “scarifiers”) dig into uneven soil, allowing you to easily spread and level the ground or a sloping grade for drainage.
With the teeth in a down-and-locked position, you can tackle driveway bumps or poorly draining surfaces; lift the scarifiers and level the box blade, and you can easily scrape and smooth broken-up dirt. Just remember to run over filled-in areas with your tractor’s back tires to compact the soil before calling the job done.
There’s less standardization in the term “grader” than blades or box scrapers, with different companies offering different features, but these “road scrapers” feature two or more angled blades affixed to a solid frame.
The main benefit of a grader blade is ease of use: It moves fast and easy over uneven terrain. While a blade or box scraper is often enough to complete grading tasks, a grader blade is worth considering if you have a dirt service road or long driveway to maintain.
With no moving parts to service, the only real trick is adjusting the three-point hitch to level the blade and avoid damaging the corners and, of course, choosing the size and quality you need.
This story originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Hobby Farms magazine.