Scarifying sod with a harrow or field drag can give the seed-to-soil contact needed to successfully broadcast-seed forages. But many drags are difficult to transport or too heavy or aggressive to be used with small-seeded forages, say two University of Arkansas Extension specialists.

So Kenny Simon, forage program assistant, and John Jennings, forage agronomist, built their own inexpensive, lightweight tire drag. It can “scarify short sod, expose soil and improve stand establishment,” they wrote in a poster presented at the American Forage & Grassland Council Conference in January.

“Our tire drag is constructed with salvaged 10- to 14-ply road-grader tires; however, the drag can be sized to match the tractor or ATV to be used to pull the drag,” the specialists wrote. Here’s how to build one:

• Cut three tires vertically in half down the tread middle. The cut side of a tire can be used more aggressively for heavy sod conditions; the smooth side can be used to smooth and firm tilled seedbeds or in thin sod pastures. Use a heavy ply so cut tires hold shape and don’t fold up when in use.

• Lay cut tires in a six-tire pyramid formation, as shown, with a drag width of about 13’ using bias-ply, road-grader tires. Don’t use steel-belted tires because sharp wires protrude and can cause injury, the poster authors warn.

• Drill ½” holes through each tire’s tread (see diagram for placement). Then insert an eye bolt, leaving the “eye” on the outside of each tire and use a thin piece of 2 x 4” metal inside the tire as a washer to keep the eye bolt from pulling through.

• Connect large snap rings to the tire eye bolts (inset photo). The rings allow tires to flex independently and follow ground contours.

• Place a piece of pipe – to use as a pull bar – horizontally between the tires and the vehicle pulling the drag.

• Weld chains to the pull bar and attach them to the snap rings on the first and second rows of tires to keep the drag in line when turning.

• Weld chains to the front side of the pull bar to join the drag to the tractor or ATV.