The Electric Mule: Plowing with a Winch

How to plow a garden with a winch and a lightweight plow

When I stumbled across these videos from Russia and Eastern Europe my very first thought was "THAT'S BRILLIANT!"   Think of the potential here...

  • Making gardens in a city where there are no tractors
  • Avoid the fumes and noise from a gasoline rototiller
  • No soil compaction from heavy tractors
  • Potential use with a disc, harvester, harrow, planter or ???
  • Lower cost and maintenance than a tiller or small tractor
  • Easier and faster than manually turning soil

Thanks for reading!       by Greg Baka

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23 second Video showing the basic concept.   It's kind of a goofy commercial, but it's a fast watch. There would be a winch operator at the far end, like the remaining videos show.


winch used for plowing
plow being pulled by winch cable
plow being rolled across garden


I really prefer the idea of using a winch powered by an electric motor, rather than a gasoline engine. The quiet operation of an electric motor means you could use it anytime and anywhere. Someone using it for urban agriculture could plow without disturbing the neighbors. Also the plow operator can easily talk to the winch operator without shouting. This is where the Electric Mule idea comes from.

But I did find just as many videos that used gasoline powered winches. They would be handy in a remote field that doesn't have electric power. The videos below show a couple of new commercially-made plows using gas motors.

A couple of these films also show a middlebuster plow being use to create deep furrows and/or ridges in the plowed soil. My assumption is that they are planning to plant potatoes.

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Plowing with an electric winch.   This equipment appears to be store bought. It uses a belt drive for the winch, which may be a little safer and cheaper than gears or chain. The adjustments for plow height and hook point are interesting.


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Plowing with chainsaw winch   This video shows a commercially made winch and plow. If you buy one, let us know! Using a chainsaw for the power is a good use of resources.
Also there is a video showing one powered with an angle grinder

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One of my favorites ...because I wish I knew why two guys in Army uniforms are driving around with a plow in a sedan. It's only a 2 minute video, and about 1/2 way through they also show using a middle-buster plow. I assume they are creating ridges for planting potatoes.


I think there is great potential for this concept to be used for other small-scale agriculture applications. A winch is adjustable, it can run at high speeds with low force, or very low speeds with a high torque. We even found video of guys using a high speed winch to wakeboard in a pond (like waterskiing).

In my next article, I will share some more Russian videos showing folks planting, cultivating, and harvesting potatoes. We'll explore how winch power could be used for these jobs, and bounce around some ideas for other gardening and agriculture tasks that could be done using big or small winches. There are some safety issues to address since most winch instructions say you should not stand in line with the cable in case of a breakage. But perhaps using a rope winch negates that? Let's find out...

EasyDigging does sell a similar walk-behind weeders and cultivators called Wheel Hoes.

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