1981 - Volume #5, Issue #4, Page #23[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Insect Killer Zaps Bugs With Fire
"For less than half the cost of insecticides you can get nearly the same control. Another key benefit of the Insecticider is that we can stop filling our environment with chemicals no one really knows much about," Harrell told FARM SHOW.
Rather than poison, the new machine kills bugs with red-hot pro-pane flames blasting out of boat-shaped metal pans that pass between rows. A canopy above the rows gently shakes the crop, knocking insects into the pan below.
Pans fill the space between rows and are long enough to catch nearly all falling insects. Heat spacers and deflectors prevent the crops from being damaged.
As bugs fall off the crops, they drop into the pans. The flame, under a deflector in the pan, keeps the pan hot enough to kill or greatly injure any insect that comes in contact with it, if the flame doesn't burn them up directly. As the pan moves forward, burned bugs shake out a hole in the back, explains Harrell. He also is investigating having a trailing flame behind the pans to burn off weeds in the row.
"Most people, if they've ever tried to pick a bug or worm from a plant, don't believe this machine will work. But if they had tried shaking the plant rather than pulling on the insect they would have been surprised to see it fall off. Most agricultural stations, for example, take insect counts by placing a paper on the ground and shaking the plant," explains Harrell.
Harrell's prototype machine has five pans 28 by 36 in. riding below a tube steel frame. The plant-shaking canopy, made from sheet metal, is positioned directly above the pans. A propane tank mounts on the frame directly in front of the tractor. Although the machine was designed with cotton in mind, it is completely adjustable for other crops.
"It'll work well in soybeans, corn, potatoes and other row crops. On tall-growing crops, you could use a "high boy" tractor, if needed. It would be great for grasshopper infestations," says Harrell. He notes that mounting the machine in front allows simultaneous use of other rear-mounted equipment, such as cultivators.
James Lloyd, county agent in Dyersburg, Tenn., says further tests need to be conducted but agrees that the Insecticider should work well in cotton and soybeans for killing , not only live insects but "dead squares"that contain insect eggs. "Perhaps the real value of this machine," he says, "will be in the future as pesticides are restricted and maybe even banned."
Harrell says he plans extensive tests this summer and hopes to sell the idea to a manufacturer.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Robert Harrell, 616 N. St. John, Dyersburg, Tenn. 38024 Inh 901 285-17081.
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