Simple farm tools are simple, handy tools made up of metals and wooden handles where applicable and used mainly by peasant farmers. Some common simple farm tools include cutlass, wheel barrow, hoe, shovel and axe.

Description of Simple Farm Tools


The cutlass is one of the commonest used farm tools in Nigeria. They come in various shapes and sizes. It is a flat long metal blade with a short wooden handle with one edge sharp while the other is blunt.

Fig 1.1: A Cutlass

Uses of the cutlass

The cutlass is used for pre-planting activities such as the cutting down and clearing of grasses, bushes and trees. It is used to plant the seeds of some crops. Also the cutlass is used to harvest some crops.

Some examples of some of the crops that are harvested using the cutlass in Nigeria are sugarcane, vegetables like waterleaf, bitter leaf etc.


The hoe consists of a very long handle attached to metal blade. The metal blade is usually attached to the base of the long handle. The metal blade could be slightly rectangular or rounded in shape.

Fig 1.2:A Hoe

Types of Hoe

(A).The West African Hoe: This hoe consists of a short wooden handle with a round metal blade attached to its base. The metal blade is attached to the handle through its prong.

Fig 1.2.1: A West African Hoe

(B). The West Indian Hoe: In the case of the West Indian Hoe, there is a rectangular blade attached to the long wooden handle. The blade has a loop around the handle of the hoe

Fig 1.2.2: West Indian Hoe

Uses of Hoe

The hoe as a farm tool is used to make heaps and ridges inside which the seeds and seedlings of some crops are placed. It is used to prepare the farm land for planting operations. Furthermore it is used for the harvesting of some crops. Lastly the hoe is used for weeding.


This is a farm tool consisting of a long wooden handle and a broad metal blade. The metal blade is also attached to the base of the long handle. This blade is broad and with a very sharp edge which enables the spade to easily penetrate into the soil.

Fig 1.3:A spade

Uses of Spade

The spade is used in turning over the soil especially to cover the seeds of some plants and also to support plant seedlings. It is also used to level the soil. During the construction of some farm structures it is used in the mixing of cement, sand and stone to create concrete.



The shovel is similar to the spade but it has a slight difference. It has a long wooden handle.Its blade is hollow and broad. Its blade is not as deep as that of the shovel with a rectangular or round edge

.Fig 1.4: A shovel

Uses of the Shovel.

This farm tool is used to transfer soil from one place to another. Farm materials are loaded from the ground to a machine or tool used for transportation through the aid of a shovel. Farmers use this tool to make garden parts and also to remove stone and rubbish.

Garden Fork

The garden fork has four prongs or teeth which are tapered to a point on the handle. The teeth or prong are made of hard metal. This is one common farm tool used in Nigeria because of its cheapness and easy accessibility. It is majorly found on animal farms or a farm involved in the cultivation of crops and animal husbandry.

Fig 1.5:  A garden fork




Uses of the Garden Fork

This farm tool is used in the production of compost manure. It is also used to loosen the soil before removing the seedlings for transplanting. Lastly it could also be used to load manure in the absence of the shovel.

Hand Fork

It is almost similar to the garden fork. But the difference is that it is far smaller than the garden fork and can be held with only one hand.

Fig 1.6: A Hand Fork

It consists of a short wooden handle attached to a metal with three or four prongs or teeth. Most users in Nigeria utilize this tool in the squatting posture.

Uses of the Hand Fork

This farm tool is used for breaking soil clods. It is also utilized during light weeding and mixing small quantities of soil.

Hand Trowel

The hand trowel consists of a short metal handle and a scooped-shape blade. Its scoop-shaped blade creates the possibility to carry seedlings together with the small ball of earth during transplanting.

Fig 1.7: A hand trowel

Uses of Hand Trowel

The hand trowel is used for the following activities on the farm such as transplanting of seedlings, fertilizer or manure application, light weeding and the mixing of soil and fertilizers.


The rake is a farm tool which consists of a very long wooden handle with a strong metal head attached to its base. The metal head has several prongs which are very important to enable the rake perform its functions.

Fig 1.8: A Rake

Uses of the Rake

The rake is used by farmers to perform the following functions:To spread the soil evenly after hoeing. It is used to remove stones and weeds from seed-beds.It is used to cover vegetable seeds after broadcasting. The rake is used to break soil lumps into smaller particles.



The axe is a farm tool which is also divided into two major parts which are a strong wooden or metal handle and a metal blade with a sharpened edge. It is usually held with both hands during use.

Fig 1.9: An Axe


Functions of the Axe

Farmers use the axe to carry out the activities of splitting/slicing wood, cutting wood and uprooting tree stumps.

Pick Axe

The pick axe has a long wooden handle and a metal head with double blades. One of the blades of the pick axe is shaped so that it has a big and sharp pointed edge while the other blade has the shape of a small and narrow hoe. This feature distinguishes the pick axe from the axe itself.

Fig 1.10: A Pick axe




Uses of the Pick Axe

This farm tool is used for the removal of the roots of big trees, tilling of very hard soils and the making of ridges.

Head Pan

The head pan is a metal container with two handles opposite to each other. One striking feature of the head pan is that its top is larger than its bottom. Its handles enable easy grabbing of the tool by hand when it is transported from one place to another.

Fig 1.11: A Head Pan

Uses of the Head Pan

The use of this farm tool is employed for the collection of some harvested crops, transportation of small farm inputs and outputs, and the mixing of manure and fertilizer.

Watering Can

This is a can fitted with a spout and two handles. Some watering cans are made of metal while others are made of plastic.  The spout has a perforated metal sheet over its mouth.

This perforated metal sheet is called rose. As mentioned in the first sentence of this section, the watering can has two handles.

One handle is used to carry the watering can when it is being moved from one place to another while the other handle is used to hold the watering can during irrigation.

Fig 1.12: A Watering Can

Uses of the Watering Can

This farm tool is used for the light irrigation of crops in the dry season. It is also used to apply liquid fertilizer, wetting of cement blocks with water during construction of farm structures and the application of water to seedlings in the nursery.


The mattock has a small wooden handle and a double headed metal head. Some people see the mattock as the combination of a small axe with a hoe.

Fig 1.13: A Mattock

Uses of the Mattock

The mattock as a farm tool is used to uproot small stumps, loosen and dig the soil, bush clearing and weeding.



The sickle is a farm tool with a curved metal blade attached to a short handle. The inner edge of the metal blade is sharp while the outer edge is blunt.

Fig 1.14: A Sickle

Uses of the Sickle

The sickle is used to harvest fruits ,cutting grass pasture for animals or cereal crops and the light weeding of vegetable plants.




Harvesting Knife

The harvesting knife is almost similar to the sickle. But the major difference is that it is bigger and longer than the sickle. It consists of a long wooden handle with a small curved metal blade attached to its edge.

Fig 1.15: A harvesting Knife

Uses of the Harvesting Knife

The harvesting knife as a farm tool is used to harvest some cash crops like cocoa, oil palm, mango, oranges and kolanut. It is also used for light pruning.



The wheelbarrow is a common farm tool which is seen almost every day in major cities of Nigeria. It is a large metal container with a wheel at the front, two handles at the rear and two legs under the base also at the rear. It is pushed by lifting the two handles slightly upward.

Fig 1.16: A wheelbarrow

Uses of the Wheelbarrow

The major use of the wheelbarrow as a farm tool is to carry and transport farm inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and farm outputs such as harvested crops, slaughtered animals and other load from the farm to the market or other places. It is also used to transplant seedlings.


The crowbar is a long iron bar which is bent at one end. It is used for the gradual movement of heavy loads. Also at times, it is used to dig holes for planting seeds

Fig 1.17: A Crowbar





Manure Drag

The manure drag consists of a handle attached to tines. The number of tines could be four or five at the base of the handle of the manure drag. The tines have ends pointed at right-angles to the handle to facilitate digging.

Fig 1.18: A Manure drag

Uses of the Manure Drag

It is used especially on animal farms to dig farm-yard manure.



The following maintenance practices or maintenance activities are to be adopted to prolong the life span and effective use of farm tools

  1. Tools should be washed or cleaned after use.
  2. Oil, grease or lubricate movable parts to reduce friction.
  3. Sharpen tools with blunt edges or blades regularly .e.g. cutlass
  4. Paint, oil or grease metallic parts to prevent rusting if they are to be kept for a long time
  5. Store tools in a cool dry place.
  6. Replace worn-out or damaged parts of farm tools.
  7. Check and tighten loose nuts and bolts daily or periodically.
  8. Remove tools with wooden parts away from the sun to avoid cracking.
  9. Keep metallic tools away from rain or moist places to avoid rusting.
  10. Keep tools with wooden handles away from termites and fire.
  11. Handle tools with care and use them for the right farm operations.

Review Questions

  1. Name farm tools for each of the following farm processes.
    1. Land Preparation.
    1. Harvesting
    1. Planting (SSCE; June 1993).
  • List Five (5) equipment or tools normally used in a poultry farm.(SSCE; Nov 1998).
  • List Five (5) Maintenance practices for farm tools/implements.(SSCE; Nov 1992)
  • Differentiate between the following farm tools/implement.
    • West African Hoe and West Indian Hoe
    • Sickle and Harvesting Knife
    • Shovel and Spade
    • Pick axe and Mattock
    • Hand Fork and Garden fork
  • List two uses of the following
    • Shears
    • Mattock