The Log Chain Didn't Go With It

Still a few moldboard plows for sale.

Published on: Apr 6, 2010
Walking through the maze of used machinery offered at the Benton Central FFA consignment auction a Saturday ago, several plows were sitting here and there. And they were moldboard plows, not chisel plows.

Most were in rough condition. One was missing a coulter that runs in front of the plow bottom to cut the soil so the bottom can lift and flip it. Most were International plows for whatever reason. There are two possible theories. Either they were no good and everyone is getting rid of them, or they were very good and were very popular when plows became unpopular as a whole about 20 years ago. Knowing the track record of International plows in the last hurrah days of the early '80's for moldboard plows, it's likely because they were good. If people still kept a plow around in the toolshed, it was likely to be an old International plows than some other brand.

Most looked like they had been in a shed for a while. The proverbial joke is that once someone switches to no-till, they park their moldboard plow in the backyards, and tie it to the tree with a log chain. It wasn't that they were afraid someone would steal it. Instead, it was supposedly so they wouldn't be tempted to hook it back up and go back to plowing the first time something was wrong with the conservation tillage or no-till system they were now using.

If you want to prove to yourself that there has been a cultural shift in agriculture over the past 20 years, try this exercise. Visit a local ag department, and pick out a few students, ages 15 to 18, and ask them what a moldboard plow is. Odds are you will get blank looks. They likely know what no-tilling means, but they may never have heard of moldboard plowing. If the word 'plow' means anything to them, it brings up images of what we know as a chisel plow.

Two FFA students giving a demonstration on mechanics recently learned what a moldboard plow was just so they could talk about what happens if you don't fill each grease zerk with grease. They learned of a case where a farmer didn't worry about the zerk that wouldn't take grease. When he hit a big rock later, that shank didn't trip, and instead the entire plow bottom broke off. Fixing the grease zerk and getting it to working again would have eliminated the problems.