Top 4 Agricultural Hand Tools For Farms Or Home Gardens

Top 4 Agricultural Hand Tools For Farms Or Home Gardens
Jump to:

    When we talk about agricultural tools in the modern world, we’re almost always talking about machinery. Unfortunately, to feed a growing global population, farms have had to grow to enormous sizes. The largest farm in the world is about the same size as Portugal. 

    But the vast majority of the world doesn’t farm in large, flat fields the size of countries. Millions of people around the world have farms no bigger than football fields. They farm on river banks, in ditches, on steep inclines, and even on mountainsides - places machines can’t access.

    So when the topic of agricultural tools comes up, as it often does in daily conversation, we may conjure up images of giant John Deere and Kubota machines. But the fact is, for millions of farmers around the world, agricultural tools are small, handheld, and lightweight tools, many of which have been used for centuries (some for millennia!)

    Now there’s a growing number of people running side-business farms, renting plots, maintaining community gardens, or large home gardens. Of course, in most of these situations, we don’t have the space or the need for large machinery, but the typical gardening tools sold at hardware stores and garden centers aren’t really suited for that kind of work.

    So the market for agricultural hand tools is beginning to open up, and people are starting to realize that blacksmiths and traditional gardening tool brands across the world, who have been perfecting handmade agricultural tools for decades, have a lot of special things to offer.

    So take a look at these four essential agricultural hand tools that will make working in your small farm or large garden an absolute dream.

    Harvesting Knives

    Harvesting Knives

    Harvesting knives are a very important tool for anyone who grows plants from the Brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy etc.) or the Lactuca family (lettuce, particularly head lettuce).

    Like a miniature version of the Japanese nata axe, these helpful, broad-bladed tools are super sharp and can slice through the tough stems of vegetables with ease. Simply pull away the outer leaves, grab the head of the cabbage or broccoli, or whatever else you’re harvesting, and give the stem a few stiff whacks with the harvesting knife. It’s as simple as that!

    No more pulling and twisting, bringing up the entire root system and half of the soil in your garden bed with it. A harvesting knife makes quick work of even large beds of cabbages, so you can speed up the harvest and move on to the next task.



    Sickles are affordable tools that are easy to learn and use, and can be used in a variety of ways in fields or home gardens. Whether you're weeding, cutting tall grass, downsizing your cover crop, or harvesting herbs like mint or chives, a sickle is an exceptionally useful tool to have on hand.

    You might be wondering why someone would use a sickle in their field over a tractor, a lawnmower, or a weed whacker. Well, there’s your answer. Why have three tools, when you can have one? 

    The versatility of the humble sickle cannot be overstated. It can cut grass, get rid of weeds, cut hay, and even harvest grain, herbs, and vegetables. Not only that, it can do all of those things on steep slopes, in ditches, in raised garden beds, and in and around trees and fragile crops - places where you wouldn’t take a tractor, lawnmower, or weed whacker.

    Sure, it takes a little more time and effort to use a sickle than a power tool. But working in the garden or field, quietly, with your hands, is a lot more rewarding. The physical and mental benefits alone make it worthwhile.



    Hoes are some of the most widely used agricultural tools, with a history spanning more than 5000 years. They were one of the first agricultural tools humans came up with, and they’re still used by millions of people today. 

    Typical field hoes are great tools for cultivating, turning, aerating and tilling the soil in large fields and gardens. They’re also wonderful for digging ditches and creating rows in fields to prepare the land for planting crops.

    While you may be imagining every hoe as a field hoe, with a long handle and a big, heavy head, that’s not the case. Many of the hoes we sell are perfect for home and community gardens, and can easily be used with one hand.

    A handheld garden hoe is a fantastic tool for breaking up compacted soil or soil with a lot of rock or clay in the mix. In addition, if you have a shallow garden bed, using a hoe to create ditches and mounded rows is not only good for irrigation, it helps to maximize soil depth for plants with larger root systems.

    One unique hoe is the Japanese cuttlefish hoe, which has a standard hoe blade on one side, and a garden fork on the other, which makes it an extremely versatile tool for preparing gardens and beds for planting, chopping through roots, and softening, digging and turning the soil.

    Another interesting hoe is the weeding hoe. This ingenious little handheld tool “shaves” the soil like a vegetable peeler. It digs slightly underneath the soil and cuts ground-covering weeds at their roots. It’s exceptionally agile, and perfect for weeding in between plants.

    Want to learn even more about hoes? Be sure to check out this super detailed article all about hoes.



    Before you take to your garden or field with a hoe, if it’s in really bad condition, it might need the attention of a mattock first. Mattocks can do many of the same things that hoes can do: breaking up and loosening soil, and cutting through roots, but they do these things in a much more heavy-duty way.

    Mattocks feature an adze on one side (a flat, horizontal blade) and an axe on the other side. The adze functions very much like a long, narrow hoe blade. It can dig into the soil, you can drag it to create ditches, it can cut through roots and turn over and aerate compacted soil. The axe is better at cutting through thicker roots, or tree stumps.

    Pick mattocks are a type of mattock that feature a pick rather than an axe. These are great for fields or gardens with a lot of debris. They’re particularly good for community gardens in cities, where in many cases you’re planting in the land left behind after a house was demolished.

    When using a pick mattock to prepare your soil, if you run into a piece of rock, or brick, or something else that needs to be broken up, simply hit it a few times with the pick, and watch it fall to pieces.

    So there you have it, the top four agricultural hand tools. From preparing the soil, to weeding, to harvesting and almost everything in between, these four tools in particular can replace a whole fleet of tractors and machines, with a fraction of the space and cost. 

    We hope you’ve come to learn that agricultural tools do have a place in modern society, even in your home garden. Maybe you’ll even give one or more of them a try!

    If you’re interested in quality, handmade Japanese agricultural tools, the first places you want to look are Doukan and Azui - two traditional blacksmiths from Miki, Hyogo who have decades of experience forging gardening and agricultural tools.