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Hoe (tool)

Hoes are bladed tools used to:

  • agitate the surface of the soil around plants, to remove weeds
  • pile soil around the base of plants (hilling);
  • create narrow furrows (drills) and shallow trenches for planting seeds and bulbs;
  • generally dig and move soil (e.g. harvesting potatoes), and chop weeds, roots and crop residues.


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 hoe) 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.

Pacul and cangkul are Malay or Indonesian 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 TamilNadu it is called Manvetty or Mammoty.

Hoes in Archaeology

Over the past fifteen or twenty years hoes have become increasingly popular tools for professional archaeologists in the UK. While not as accurate as the traditional trowel, 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.


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