What Is a Tow-Behind Tiller?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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The tow-behind tiller is a device commonly pulled or towed behind a garden tractor or an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), and is used to till or prepare the soil prior to planting. Other common uses for a tow-behind tiller are to remove weeds and cultivate the earth between rows of planted crops. The tiller usually consists of an axle that is fitted with steel tines, or tangs, as they are sometimes called. The tines are mounted in a steel framework, complete with an independent, gasoline engine that is used to power the turning tines. The entire tow-behind tiller mechanism is typically attached to the tractor or ATV via a trailer hitch and hitch pin.

Some users prefer a tow-behind tiller over a self-propelled, stand-alone rototiller for several reasons. One such reason is the ability of the user to simply ride on the tow vehicle while tilling. On a conventional tiller model, the operator walks behind the machine while placing rearward pressure against the forward motion of the tiller. This causes the tiller's tines to dig deeply into the earth and results in maximum earth manipulation. When using a tow-behind tiller, the operator simply slows or stops the forward motion of the tractor or ATV, allowing the self-powered tiller deck to work the soil an extra amount.


The tow-behind tiller is different than a rear-mounted tiller attachment. The tiller attachment usually attaches to the garden tractor by way of a three-point hitch and the tiller tines can be operated by an independent engine as in the tow-behind model or by a drive shaft or drive belt powered by the tractor's engine. The tow-behind model of tiller uses a set of front- and rear-mounted caster wheels to support the tiller as it is being towed behind the tractor or ATV. One of the most unconventional uses for the tow-behind tiller and an ATV is in the preparation in hunting food plots located deep in the woods.

When using the tow-behind machine to create or tend to wildlife food plots, the tiller is commonly pulled behind an ATV. This allows the tiller to be towed a greater distance in a minimal time due to the increased speed of the ATV as compared to a garden tractor. If working a plot on private ground, many users simply leave the tiller at the site and cover the machine with a tarpaulin. This protects the tiller between uses. The user can then simply ride an ATV to the plot, hook onto the tiller and work the ground.


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