We did a five mile walk round Little Walden, Essex, yesterday. High up on a big open field an ancient caterpillar tractor hauled a mole plough slowly and noisily back and forth. A mole plough, or subsoiler, is used for deep tillage, loosening and breaking up soil at depths, as much as a metre, below the levels worked by conventional ploughs. The depth depends on the soil profile. The aim is to improve crop growth where soil is compacted – it’s nothing to do with the eradication of moles. Critics of the technique say that it just compresses the soil to the side and creates a vertical hardpan. This tractor has long since given up hauling anything.
Photo: Little Walden, Essex, September 2107