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Skidsteer Attachment Speeds Up Fabric Mulch Removal
As the 145,000 trees that Dustin Gibbons and his family planted on their Brookings, S. Dak., ranch started to grow, they realized they had a problem. The fabric mulch the trees were planted in had done a great job of retaining moisture and preventing weeds, but it wasn’t degrading like it was supposed to. To avoid girdling the trees as they grew, the fabric needed to be cut larger for each tree or removed altogether.
  After spending a day and a half using a tractor and chain to pull out a 1/4-mile strip of the fabric mulch, Gibbons figured there had to be a better way. He developed his Weed Barrier Removal Attachment after a couple years of testing and tweaking a prototype on the family’s property. He also built and sold a few from his farm shop (Duty Metalworks), and area conservation district employees are taking an interest in the attachment.
  “It mounts on the front of a skidsteer at about a 30-degree angle,” Gibbons says. A 4-in. sq. tube slips into the brackets and becomes the spindle, which is turned by a motor and gearbox housed in a box on the side of the attachment. Pull out about 10 ft. of the fabric by hand and wrap it around the spindle to get started, then drive the skidsteer ahead as the spindle winds up the fabric.
  The fabric tears in the middle so the operator needs to go on both sides of the tree row. If a lot of dirt and grass pull up with the plastic, Gibbons says it’s helpful to have someone walking along knocking clumps off the fabric as it is being pulled toward the spindle. Typically, the roll is 3- to 4-ft. in diameter after about a 1/4-mile. Then it is lowered, released and a new 4x4 is attached for the next run.
  “Now it takes us 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. to pull up a 1/4-mile of fabric from both sides of the row of trees,” Gibbons says.
  He notes a tractor with a universal mount could be used, but a skidsteer is smaller and more maneuverable around the trees.
  “Many people aren’t aware of the problem,” Gibbons says. “Ideally, the fabric should be pulled out when the trees are seven to 10 years old. There will be problems after that.”
  He has seen groves where the fabric wasn’t cut and kept each tree at a small diameter where the fabric choked it, while the rest of the tree grew.
  Gibbons invites landowners interested in his attachment to contact him. He builds and sells them for just under $5,000. A video of it in action can be seen on his website.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dustin Gibbons, 1705 Derdall Dr., Brookings, S. Dak. 57006 (ph 605 695-7106; www.dutymetalworks.com; dustin@dutymetalworks.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #1