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F. Spedo PTO-Powered Potato Digger
In the correct soil conditions and with potato beds that are designed correctly, this PTO-powered Potato digger can be a real labor-saver. The tractor PTO operates a “shaker-grate” in the rear that shakes out most of the soil and leaves the potatoes on top (works for most large potato varieties…if you are growing “fingerling” potatoes or digging a lot of “new” or small potatoes, this may not be the digger for you). Will NOT work on sweet potatoes.
To have success with this implement, the potatoes have to be planted in single rows that are hilled to EXACTLY the right size for this digger, and also the soil needs to be “just right”…if you have sand, heavy clay, and / or if it’s too wet or too dry, you may be out of luck. This digger cannot go more than 3 or 4 inches “below grade”, so potatoes need to be planted relatively close to the surface and then hilled up repeatedly (a Rotary Plow is a good implement for this). With hills built in this fashion, the digger does more “breaking down of the hills” that it does “digging below the surface”…which allows it to do it’s job with the limited traction of a walk-behind tractor.
The full story is that the manufacturer of this implement (the F. Spedo company of Italy) originally designed this tool as a 3-point-hitch mount unit for a 4-wheel tractor, and then they later adapted it to use on a walk-behind tractor. The problem with this concept is that a walk-behind tractor has only a FRACTION of the traction (hey, that rhymes!) of a 4-wheel tractor…so while this implement may be very effective and work better and deeper when attached to a 4-wheel tractor, it has physical limitations when used behind a relatively light-weight walk-behind tractor.
If you grow your potatoes in the correct row / hill configuration as described above, AND you have good soil, this implement can work for you. Otherwise, we find that our Aldo Biagioli “manual” pull-type Potato / Root crop plow is an effective option in a wider variety of soil conditions and bed styles / shapes…(and it helps that it’s about one-tenth the price, too!!)
BCS America advertises this implement as fitting their models 739 and up… and while the Horsepower of the 739 is certainly sufficient, we feel that the weight and wheel size of that model are “borderline”… So we would recommend a minimum tractor size of the BCS 749 / 852 / 853, with a Minimum of 5 x 12 x 22” tractor wheel size. Wheel weights may be required on tractor for extra traction.