Hoe (tool)
A hoe is an ancient and versatile agricultural tool used to move small amounts of soil. Common goals include weed control
Weed control
Weed control is the botanical component of pest control, using physical and chemical methods to stop weeds from reaching a mature stage of growth when they could be harmful to domesticated plants and livestock...

 by agitating the surface of the soil around plants, piling soil around the base of plants (hilling
Hilling, earthing up or ridging is the technique in agriculture and horticulture of piling soil up around the base of a plant. It can be done by hand , or with powered machinery, typically a tractor attachment....

), creating narrow furrows (drills
Drill (agriculture)
In agriculture and gardening, a drill is a shallow furrow in which seeds or bulbs are placed during seeding. A drill is commonly created by dragging a hoe through the soil in a straight line, leaving a furrow of a centimeter or two for smaller seeds, or a deeper trench of several centimeters for...

) and shallow trenches for planting seeds
SEEDS is a voluntary organisation registered under the Societies Act of India....

 and bulbs, to chop weeds, root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

s and crop
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 residues, and even to dig or move soil, such as when harvesting root crops like potatoes.


There are many types of blade of quite different appearance and purpose. Some can perform multiple functions. Others are intended for a specific use (e.g. the collinear hoe has a narrow, razor-sharp blade which is used to slice weeds by skimming it just above the surface of the soil with a sweeping motion; it is unsuitable for tasks like soil moving and chopping). The typical farming and gardening hoe with a heavy, broad delta-shaped blade and a flat edge is the Dego hoe.

The Dutch hoe (scuffle, action, oscillating, swivel, or Hula-Ho) is a design that is pushed or pulled through the soil to cut weeds just under the surface. Its tool-head is a loop of flat, sharpened strap metal. It is not as efficient as a chopping hoe for pulling or pushing soil.

Stirrup hoes are designed with a double edge blade that bends around to form a stirrup like rectangle attached to the handle. Weeds are cut just below the soil surface as the bade is pushed & pulled through the area. The back and forth motion is highly effective with cutting weeds in loose or breakable soil. Widths of the stirrup blade typically range between three to seven inches.

Pacul and cangkul are Malay
Malay language
Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the official language of Malaysia , Indonesia , Brunei and Singapore...

 or Indonesian
Indonesian language
Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. Indonesian is a normative form of the Riau Islands dialect of Malay, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries....

 words for a hoe used by the farmers to dig soil] before they plant rice and corn. It is also very popular among farmers in India. In Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

 it is called manvetty or mammoty
Mammoty , a special type of garden hoe that is common in India and Sri Lanka, whose blade is about four times as large as that of the average garden hoe...



Hoes are an ancient technology, perhaps second only to the digging stick
Digging stick
In archaeology and anthropology a digging stick is the term given to a variety of wooden implements used primarily by subsistence-based cultures to dig out underground food such as roots and tubers or burrowing animals and anthills...

. They are mentioned in ancient documents like the Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code, dating to ca. 1780 BC . It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay...

 (18th century BCE) and the Book of Isaiah
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

 (8th century BCE).

The human damage caused by long-term use of short-handled hoes, which required the user to bend over from the waist to reach the ground, and caused permanent, crippling lower back pain to farm workers, resulted in the California Supreme Court declaring the short-handled hoe to be an unsafe hand tool that was banned under California law. The short-handled hoe that Governor Jerry Brown gave to César Chávez
César Chávez
César Estrada Chávez was an American farm worker, labor leader, and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers ....

 in 1975 was displayed in the California Hall of Fame
California Hall of Fame
Conceived by First Lady Maria Shriver, the California Hall of Fame was established at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts to honor individuals and families who embody California’s innovative spirit and have made their mark on history...

 in 2006.

Hoes in archaeology

Over the past fifteen or twenty years, hoes have become increasingly popular tools for professional archaeologists. While not as accurate as the traditional trowel
A trowel is one of several similar hand tools used for digging, smoothing, or otherwise moving around small amounts of viscous or particulate material.-Hand tools:...

, the hoe is an ideal tool for cleaning relatively large open areas of archaeological interest. It is faster to use than a trowel, and produces a much cleaner surface than an excavator bucket or shovel-scrape, and consequently on many open-area excavations the once-common line of kneeling archaeologists trowelling backwards has been replaced with a line of stooping archaeologists with hoes.

External links

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