Hoe (tool)

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For other uses, see Hoe (disambiguation).
A farmer using a hoe to keep weeds down in a vegetable garden.

A hoe is an ancient and versatile agricultural hand tool used to shape the soil, control weeds, clear soil, and harvest root crops. Hoes are also used to mix things like concrete, and to dig holes. Shaping the soil can be piling soil around the base of plants (hilling), creating narrow furrows (drills) and shallow trenches for planting seeds and bulbs. Weed control with a hoe can be by agitating the surface of the soil or by cutting foliage from the roots, and clearing soil of old roots and crop residues. Hoes for digging and moving soil are used harvesting root crops such as potatoes.

Types[edit]

There are many types of hoes of quite different appearances and purposes. Some can perform multiple functions. Others are intended for a specific use.

Cultivating tool pull or draw hoe

There are two main classes of agricultural hoe: draw hoes for shaping, and scuffle hoes for surface weed control.

A draw hoe has the blade set at approximately a right angle to the handle. The user chops into the ground and then pulls (draws) the blade towards them. Altering the angle of the handle can cause the hoe to dig deeper or more shallowly as the hoe is pulled. A draw hoe can easily be used to cultivate soil to a depth of several inches. A typical design of draw hoe, the "eye hoe", has a ring in the head through which the handle is fitted.[1] This design has been used since Roman times.

A scuffle hoe is used to scrape the surface of the soil, and to loosen the top inch or so, and to cut the roots, remove, and disrupt the growth of weeds efficiently. These are mainly of two different designs: the Dutch hoe and the hoop hoe.

Eye hoe heads, some with sow-tooth (German: Sauzahn), Centro Etnográfico de Soutelo de Montes, Pontevedra, Spain
Cultivating tool push or thrust hoe

The term 'hand hoe' most commonly refers to any type of light-weight, short-handled hoe, although it may be used simply to contrast hand-held tools against animal or machine pulled tools.

Draw hoes[edit]

  • The typical farming and gardening hoe with a heavy, broad blade and a straight edge is known as the grub hoe, grab hoe, pattern hoe, Italian hoe,[2] azada[citation needed] or dago hoe ("dago" is an ethnic slur referring to Italians, Spaniards, or Portuguese).[3]
  • Ridging hoes also known as warren or drill hoes are triangular (point-down) or heart-shaped draw hoes particularly for creating narrow furrows (drills) and shallow trenches for planting seeds and bulbs.[4][5]
Hoedad (tree-planting tool) Kaibab National Forest, Arizona, USA
  • Hoedads (also, "hoedags") are hoe-like tools used for planting trees.[6] According to Hartzell (1987, p. 29), "The hoedag [was] originally called skindvic hoe... Hans Rasmussen, legendary contractor and timber farm owner, is credited with having invented the curved, convex, round-nosed hoedag blade which is widely used today" (emphasis added).[7]
  • The mortar hoe, a tool specific to hand mixing mortar and concrete, has the appearance of a typical square-bladed draw hoe with the addition of large holes in the blade.[8]

Scuffle hoes[edit]

  • The Dutch hoe is a design that is pushed or pulled through the soil to cut weeds just under the surface. A Dutch hoe has a blade "sharp on every side so as to cut either forwards and backwards".[9] The blade must be set in a plane slightly upwardly inclined to the dual axis of the rod used as a handle stick. The user uses the handle to push the blade forward, forcing it below the surface of the ground and maintaining it at a shallow depth in the surface layer of soil by altering the angle of the handle whilst pushing. A push hoe can easily cultivate and remove weeds etc. from the surface layer of the soil.
  • The hoop hoe (also known as action,[10] oscillating, hula, stirrup, pendulum weeder,[11] or swivel hoes) have a double-edge blade that bends around to form a rectangle attached to the handle. Weeds are cut just below the soil surface as the blade is pushed & pulled through the area. The back and forth motion is highly effective with cutting weeds in loose or breakable soil. Widths of the blade typically range between three to seven inches. Its tool-head is a loop of flat, sharpened strap metal. It is not as efficient as a draw hoe for moving soil.[12]
  • The collinear hoe has a narrow, razor-sharp blade which is used to slice weeds by skimming it just under the surface of the soil with a sweeping motion;[13] it is unsuitable for tasks like soil moving and chopping. It was designed by Eliot Coleman in the late 1980s.[14]
  • The Swoe hoe is a modern[15] one-sided cutting hoe - a variant of the Dutch hoe.

Other hoes[edit]

Hoes resembling neither draw nor scuffle hoes include:

  • Wheel hoes are, as the name suggests, a hoe or pair of hoes attached to one or more wheels. The hoes are frequently interchangeable with other tools.[16][17]

  • Horse hoes, resembling small ploughs, were a favourite implement of agricultural pioneer Jethro Tull, claiming in his book "Horse Hoeing Husbandry" that "the horse-hoe will, in wide intervals, give wheat throughout all the stages of its life, as much nourishment as the discreet hoer pleases".[18] The modern view is that, rather than nutrients being released, the crop simply benefits from the removal of competing plants.[19] The introduction of the horse hoe, together with the better-known seed drill, brought about the great increase farming productivity seen during the British Agricultural Revolution.[20]
Fork-hoe dipiction in Der Rebmann (the vine-dresser). Jost Amman, Das Ständebuch, 1568
  • Fork hoes, (also known as tined hoes or bent forks) are hoes that have two or more tines at right angles to the shaft. Their use is typically to loosen the soil, prior to planting or sowing.[4]
  • Clam hoes, made for clam digging
  • Adze hoes, with the basic hoe shape but heavier and stronger and with traditional uses in trail making,[21]
  • Pacul or cangkul (hoes similar to adze hoe from Malaysia and Indonesia)
  • Gang hoes for powered use (in use at least from 1887 to 1964).[22][23][24]

History[edit]

Hoes are an ancient technology, predating the plough and perhaps preceded only by the digging stick. In Sumerian mythology, the invention of the hoe was credited to Enlil, the chief of the council of gods.[25] The hand-plough (mr) was depicted in predynastic Egyptian art, and hoes are also mentioned in ancient documents like the Code of Hammurabi (ca. 18th century BC) and the Book of Isaiah (c. 8th century BC).

The human damage caused by long-term use of short-handled hoes, which required the user to bend over from the waist to reach the ground, and caused permanent, crippling lower back pain to farm workers, resulted in the California Supreme Court declaring the short-handled hoe to be an unsafe hand tool that was banned under California law in 1975.[26] The short-handled hoe that Governor Jerry Brown gave to César Chávez in 1975 was displayed in the California Hall of Fame in 2006.[citation needed]

Archaeological use[edit]

Over the past fifteen or twenty years, hoes have become increasingly popular tools for professional archaeologists. While not as accurate as the traditional trowel, the hoe is an ideal tool for cleaning relatively large open areas of archaeological interest. It is faster to use than a trowel, and produces a much cleaner surface than an excavator bucket or shovel-scrape, and consequently on many open-area excavations the once-common line of kneeling archaeologists trowelling backwards has been replaced with a line of stooping archaeologists with hoes.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Deppe, Carol (5 Oct 2010). The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing. p. 101. ISBN 9781603583152. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Eisen, Gustavus A. (1890). The Raisin Industry: A Practical Treatise on the Raisin Grapes, Their History, Culture and Curing. Sacramento, USA: H. S. Crocker. p. 131. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "dago definition". Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Mrs. Loudon, Jane (1847). The Amateur Gardener's Calendar: a Monthly Guide, Etc. London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans. p. 64. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Cutler, Karan (2002). Essential Tools: Equipment and Supplies for Home Gardeners. New York: Brooklyn Botanic Garden. p. 16. ISBN 9781889538501. Retrieved 14 June 2015. 
  6. ^ Nix, Steve (May 28, 2008). "Hoedads: The Tool, The Cooperative". About.com. 
  7. ^ Hartzell, Hal Jr. (1987). Birth of a Cooperative: Hoedads, Inc. A Worker Owned Forest Labor Co-op. Eugene, OR: Hulogos'i Communications. p. 29. ISBN 0-938493-09-4. 
  8. ^ "California Ag Mechanics Tool ID Manual". CSU Chico College of Agriculture. California State University. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Loudon, John (1871). The Horticulturist, Gardening in America Series. Applewood Books. p. 84. ISBN 9781429013680. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  10. ^ Darling, David. "Hoe". Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Annual Progress Report, September 1, 1984" (PDF). USAID. United States Agency for International Development. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Green, Victor (1 February 1954). "The Scuffle Hoe—A Valuable Tool for Small Plot Work on Non-Rocky Soils". Agronomy Journal 46 (2): 94–95. doi:10.2134/agronj1954.00021962004600020011x. Retrieved 12 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "Collinear Hoe Instructions" (PDF). Chelsea Green Publishing. 1995. 
  14. ^ Byczynski, Lynn (22 Feb 2008). The Flower Farmer: An Organic Grower's Guide to Raising and Selling Cut Flowers (2 ed.). Vermont, USA: Chelsea Green Publishing. p. 68. ISBN 160358076X. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "Swoe". V&A Images. 
  16. ^ Power Farming. Power Farming, Incorporated. 1919. p. 191. Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  17. ^ "US Patent 1017048, Cultivator, filed 1911". USPTO US Patent Database. United States Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  18. ^ Tull, Jethro (1731). Horse Hoeing Husbandry (Third ed.). London: A Miller. p. 149. Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  19. ^ "Historic Figures: Jethro Tull (1674 - 1741)". BBC. The BBC. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  20. ^ Overton, Mark (1996). Agricultural Revolution in England: The Transformation of the Agrarian Economy 1500–1850. Cambridge University Press. pp. 121–122. ISBN 0-521-56859-5. 
  21. ^ https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/publications/fs_publications/05232810/page09.cfm
  22. ^ Periam, Jonathan (1887). The American Encyclopedia of Agriculture: A Treasury of Useful Information for the Farm and Household. New York: Continental Publishing Company. p. 327. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  23. ^ British Tractor and Farm Machinery Journal, Vol 11 iss 24, vol 12 iss 26, vol 13 iss 28. London: N. Kark Publications. 1964. p. 149. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  24. ^ "Model tractor, type 2D, equipped with toolbar and set of gang hoes". Collections Online. Science Museum Group. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  25. ^ PBS. Heritage: Civilization and the Jews. "Nippur". Accessed 26 Nov 2012.
  26. ^ "Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers' Struggle". Pbs.org. Retrieved December 13, 2012. 

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Evans, Chris, “The Plantation Hoe: The Rise and Fall of an Atlantic Commodity, 1650–1850,” William and Mary Quarterly, (2012) 69#1 pp 71–100.

External links[edit]