Disk harrows attached to tractors with a three-point hitch have the advantage of their weight as well as leverage from the tractor to get good soil penetration. ATV disk harrows attached to a draw bar or ball-and-socket hitch do not have the advantage of leverage from the vehicle and rely solely on their weight for penetration. This can make it tough to get good tillage on dry, hard-packed soils. In such conditions, try the following:
Wait for Rain: With dry, hard-packed soils, wait until a couple of days after the next heavy rain to do your disking. The disks will be better able to grab and cut the soft, damp soil. However, wait a little longer with heavy clay. Disking very damp clay can cause severe clodding. Never disk very wet soils of any type – this can create a “hardpan” of compacted soil beneath the surface.
Adjust the Angle: Most disk harrow gangs have adjustable cutting angles so that disks can be aligned with the direction of travel for lighter tillage or turned on an angle for greater resistance and aggressiveness. Adjust the gangs for deeper cutting, but be sure your ATV is large enough to handle the greater resistance.
Take it Slow: Many people mistakenly assume that the faster you pull disk harrows, the better they cut. ATV harrows that are attached at only one point, rather than three, have a tendency to begin rocking or “walking” when pulled rapidly. The disks will actually lift off the ground as they rock back and forth, resulting in poor tillage. You will find that in good soil conditions, ATV disk harrows will actually dig in and cut more effectively at low speeds.
Add Weight: As long as your ATV and your disk harrow frame are man enough, adding extra weight to the harrow will aid penetration. Check with the manufacturer for their recommendations, and watch the weld seams on the harrow frame. If you see cracks developing, remove the weight. Be careful with rocks or cinder blocks, they can scratch and damage your implement. Logs are better but are difficult to put on or take off the implement. Bags of sand are the best option. Long, narrow bags that can be draped across more arms of the frame to evenly distribute the weight work best.
These tips are taken from QDMA’s comprehensive book Quality Food Plots.