Earth disintegrators were machines used to vaporize soil, thus creating holes and trenches more efficiently than ordinary digging tools could. They resembled mobile cranes with energy weapons at the ends.
In 2266, Captain James T. Kirk used earth disintegrators on the planet Zarta to make a trench which would trap the city builders. Although the machines fell into the pit, they soon escaped by constructing ramps. (TOS comic: "Invasion of the City Builders")