Tools and Machinery

Unit Overview - The learner will be enabled to understand purpose, operation and care for land based tools, equipment and machinery including health and safety requirements. They will also develop a basic understanding of how an internal combustion engine works.


1.1 Describe the main source/s of mechanical traction on the operation


I do not have the use of a tractor, but on the Eyam Edge Farm the following machines have been used during my time at the site:


  • John Deere powered lawn tractor
  • Hayter Harrier 56 petrol powered lawn mower
  • Mechanical rotivator (2 wheeled tractor)
  • Strimmers
  • JCB digger for landscaping works
  • Mini digger for removal of soil and the creation of foundations for field shelters etc
  • Nissan Navara diesel 'pickup truck' for all transportation of materials, straw, feedstuffs etc.


1.2 Describe the main implements used on the operation


The John Deere powered lawn tractor and the Hayter Harrier lawnmower are versatile lawn mowers for larger and smaller ares. They are used for cutting the extensive grassed areas including the field in front of the building and the grassed parts of the Horticulture Area.  Clippings are collected and taken to the compost ingredients section of the site for incorporation into the main compost building heaps.


The mechanical rotivator has been used across the Horticulture Area whilst it was under construction.  Following the layout and the building of this area we were able to rotivate large areas in advance of grass seeding.  This was a time saver and allowed us to complete the work more readily.


Strimmers used for clearing grass and areas around young trees.  Used for clearing bramble areas and areas around tables and benches.


JCB hired in to create car parking areas, level ground for the building of the forge. We have also used this to create the hardstanding road into the site and for other landscaping tasks where necessary.  The pathway down to the forge was partially made by JCB.  The second set of raised bed excavations were completed by hired JCB.  These tasks would have been significantly more difficult by hand.






1.3 Illustrate how an internal combustion engine works



 In an internal combustion engine (ICE), the ignition and combustion of the fuel occurs within the engine itself. The engine then partially converts the energy from the combustion to work. The engine has a fixed cylinder and a moving piston. The expanding combustion gases push the piston, which in turn rotates the crankshaft. Through a system of gears in the power train, this motion drives the vehicle’s wheels.


There are two kinds of internal combustion engines currently in production: the spark ignition petrol engine and the compression ignition diesel engine. Most of these are four-stroke cycle engines, meaning four piston strokes are needed to complete a cycle. This cycle includes four distinct processes: intake, compression, combustion and power stroke, and exhaust.


2.1 Undertake pre-start checks on given machinery


Tractor Pre Start Checklist


Visual inspections.

Check engine oil level.

Check transmission level and oil cooler.

Clean grill and radiator screen.

Check air cleaner dust indicator.

Check brake and clutch pedal.

Check indicators, gauges, and meter.

Check seat belts.


2.2 Demonstrate safe usage given machinery


I have been using machinery on the site safely for four years.  This evidenced by the well maintained equipment, good organisation and always following pre start checks


2.3 Carry out maintenance on given machinery


I have the ability to maintain the machinery that I have on the farm by ensuring that the pre start and safety checks are carried out regularly.


3.1 Describe key mechanical equipment for a given task


Mechanical rotivation, although rarely used as we borrow the equipment, can be a great time saver in certain situations, usually where there is compacted ground and when new landscaping is required. The main advantages of mechanical rotivation include speed, less physical work, greater depth penetration of the ground and adjustable depth penetration of the ground.  The rotivator can make it easier on occasion to landscape fresh projects.


3.2  Illustrate how the given mechanical equipment works


In the example above we see the use of a two wheeled tractor which is fitted with a rotivator attachment.  In this case the 4 stroke engine is mounted on the front of the machine and the power is transfered to the back by prop shaft.  Through mechanical means this turns the cutting blades which are designed to slice the ground and turn it at the same time.  The blades are designed with curved ends, so that the soil is disturbed and lifted simultaneously.


4.1 Undertake safety checks on given equipment


Become familiar with proper equipment operation including starting, stopping and engaging any attachments.


• Inspect the unit and the attachments for signs of wear and damage.

• Make sure belts, shafts and connections are properly tensioned or tightened.

• Verify that the shields and guards are in place, and that the safety features are not overridden.

• Refuel the engine only when it is cool.

• Do not ever smoke when working around fuel sources.

• Place the equipment in neutral, and disengage the implements before starting.

• Do not operate equipment in a closed building, as poisonous gases (carbon monoxide) can build up quickly.


Follow these general precautions when operating the equipment:


• Operate the unit only on stable ground or footing to avoid potential slips and falls.

• Do not disable safety features such as auto-clutches and shut-off switches, and do not secure levers and switches in the “on” position to simulate operator presence.

• Do not leave the unit running unattended.

• Inspect the area where the equipment will be used, and remove all stones, sticks, wires or other debris.

• Keep the hands and feet away from moving parts.

• Work slowly when tilling, and avoid forcing the unit through the soil.

• Use the attachments only as they were designed to be operated.

• Be aware of bystanders in the event of thrown objects, and keep a safe distance.

• Do not operate the equipment when fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

• Operate the equipment only with adequate visibility and light.


4.2 Demonstrate safe usage of given equipment


Safe usage of mechanical machinery has been demonstrated at Eyam Edge Farm.


4.3 Carry out maintenance on a given piece of equipment


Sharpening blades, checking fuel and oil levels, checking throttle and braking cables, ensuring the machine is clean and not clogged, using the machine for the correct purpose. Replacing filters, checking tyre pressures and observing and checking the machine when it is operating are all essential features of maintenance of the rotivator.


5.1 Describe the hand tools used in a given area of the operation


Most of the physical work on the farm is made easier using hand tools.  The following hand tools are used regularly on the holding:


  • Spade
  • Post hole spade
  • Post knocker
  • Fork
  • Trowels / handheld forks / scrapers /
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Gloves
  • Broadfork
  • Tape measure
  • Pitchfork
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Dutch hoe
  • Secateurs
  • Shears
  • Loppers
  • Scissors
  • Half moon


6.1 Demonstrate effective usage of given hand tools


At the Eyam Edge Site the evidence for the effective use of a range of hand tools can be seen through photographs of the Horticulture Area.  This is maintained almost entirely by the use of hand tools of various kinds and the students are taught to ise them alongside adults to make the work of the farm easier.  The following photographs demonstrate this:





6.2 Carry out maintenance on given hand tools


Maintenance of tools includes cleaning, sometimes oiling anf ensuring the sharpness of any cutting edge, for example a hoe works much better with a sharp edge and a good quality spade can be excellent to use for a range of purposes if it is well maintained.  Good practice with all tools starts with organisation.  Where are the tools stored? In random locations or in well ordered racks.  Similarly dangerous tools such as knives and secateurs should be locked away.  Students and adults should be taught to look after tools, clean them, and put them away properly.  They should be taught the correct tools for the correct process.  This can be role modelled by the tutor or teacher in a given context.


7.1 Reflect on the physical, emotional, and cognitive ability of the RMT student to access and use specific hand tools, equipment and machinery, with particular attention to the 3 planes of space.


Certain students have a preference for certain tools.  They may gravitate to digging with a spade because it helps them locate themselves in space (proprioception) Physical work can distract from other troubles and exercise is proven to improve mental health.  There can be great pleasure in using tools correctly and efficiently.  Generally tool use requires particular posture to avoid pain.  The three planes of space are key to this explanation as the use of the tool might involve the range of planes, as well as crossing the planes of space with the motion of the tool usage.


The correct organisation of tools can also bring an easier life.  Searching for the correct tools is a pain and using dirty or badly maintained tools can bring frustration and anger.  Providing good organisation and sticking to the system is good for everybody, not least for health and safety and safeguarding of students on the farm.


At times there can be barriers to the correct use of tools.  These can stem from inexperience, poor behaviour and incorrect use of tools, reluctance to learn or be guided and more.  In such situations I believe that guiding and role modelling can be the most effective approach.  As the student observes the process, so they are able to replicate it themselves effectively.  Many adults on the holding who visit the site are unable to use correctly because of lack of experience.  Many a time have I observed person trying to dig a deep hole with a shovel!



© Brantwood Specialist School

Created by Jim Hildyard