Different types of pasture aerators

A brief analysis of the different types of pasture aerators

Subsoil Aerators vs Other Aerators


1 Subsoil Aerator / Deep Ripper


Gives the full range of benefits, from increased drought resistance and excess water drainage to enhanced precipitation absorption

Typically increases pasture productivity around twice as much as spike aerators

Lifts and shatters the soil structure, without introducing localised compaction around fractures

Less wearing parts

Almost completely eliminates fertiliser runoff

Working depth customizable

If done at the right time, some soil types only need to be aerated once every two years or longer


Increased initial cost compared to a spike aerator

More expensive wearing parts due to the depth and thoroughness of the job done

Harder to pull, and slower working speed

2 Spike Aerator


Decreased initial outlay compared to a deep ripper aerator

Increases pasture productivity by a small amount

Decreases fertiliser runoff


Typically only around half as effective at increasing pasture productivity as a deep ripper aerator

Does not offer significantly increased rooting depth, so little added drought resistance

Does not break up the subsoil so does not allow water to drain away faster after extra rainfall

Increases subsoil compaction as it does not aerate the subsoil and the tractor is still driving over it

Increases localised compaction where the tines compress the soil to make a hole, making it harder for roots to access the aeration provided

Only around half the operating depth of a deep ripper

Little to no soil lift and creation of essential macropores in the soil structure

Needs to be re-aerated regularly, especially in livestock situations

3 Rollers with spikes

Large rollers with short spikes welded to them which compress the ground to provide "aeration". These are similar to Spike aerators, but offer even less benefit, often doing more harm than good, especially in heavy clay soils. These are much more suited for creating smooth areas of low productivity grassland and are ideal for use in areas such as golf courses and sports fields where a smooth, packed surface is more important than pasture productivity. Do not use in productive fields, the use of these machines increases compaction.

4 Pasture Renovators

These are much like spike aerators in effect, however they do have the advantage of not compressing the ground as they have a rigid tines which is pulled through the ground to create lift. However they do not typically offer nearly as much lift or operating depth as a subsoil aerator, and therefore do not offer the same benefits.

Soil Aeration Guide

Subsoil Aeration Guide Ebook cover - EDIT
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