2016 - Volume #40, Issue #3, Page #17[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Brush-Equipped Weed Cutter Cleans Up Small Grain FieldsControlling weeds in any field is especially tough for organic farmers. Colin Tanner may have the answer. Last year he used a Swedish-built, selective, mechanical weeder called CombCut. It combs through flexible stems of wheat and other small grains and cuts away broadleaf and other thick-stemmed weeds.
“We wanted to increase our control of Canada thistle in some of our fields,” says Tanner who, along with his family, farms 800 acres organically near Regina, Sask. “With our improved fertility and moisture conservation, we really needed to improve weed control.”
When Tanner first saw the CombCut, he was impressed enough to become a dealer for Just Common Sense, the Swedish company that developed and manufactures the machine. Tanner imported a dozen units and has sold most of them.
“We are currently selling machines in western Canada, but can provide them to interested growers in the U.S. as well,” says Tanner. “I thought we would move into this slowly, but interest is building faster than expected.”
The CombCut is a folding toolbar that can be mounted ahead of or behind the tractor. Protruding teeth have blades mounted to one side and are opposed by small metal bars that leave an opening to the rear. The blade cuts the thicker, stiffer weed stems, while the flexible grain stalks bend around the bar. The angle of the cutting blades on the folding toolbar can be adjusted easily with a small turnbuckle on each section of knives.
The most visible component of the CombCut is the reel with its 3 sets of bright orange, 5-in. long poly brushes. They sweep the crop and the weeds into the knives. The reels are powered by a small orbital motor and can be set at a constant speed of up to 300 rpm’s.
“The results with the CombCut last spring were terrific,” says Tanner. “Although invented to control thistles early in cereal crops, it also can be used as a clipper in broadleaf crops.”
Tanner suggests raising the toolbar above a crop like lentils to catch and cut tall weeds before they go to seed. When used as a clipper, the gaps between cutting blade and bar are eliminated.
“We clipped wild oats as the seeds were developing and thistles at bud stage,” he says. “We did it to make harvest easier, but feel it also weakened the thistle as root reserves had been expended.”
In cereals, Tanner reports little to no regrowth of smaller broadleaf weeds like wild mustard and lambsquarters. Thistles were stopped for about 3 weeks with less regrowth than expected.
Research conducted in Sweden and Norway demonstrated significant weed control and resulting increased yields. Results depend on level of infestation, type of weed and density of the crop. However, a 3-year trial in barley fields infested with Canadian thistle showed a yield increase of 94 percent with the use of the CombCut.
The CombCut has given Tanner and his family confidence to try no-tilling this year. He believes the in-crop weeder could eliminate the need for tillage weed control.
Tanner emphasizes that the tool is not for organic producers alone, especially with the growth in herbicide resistant weeds. He is getting interest from conventional growers; however, available widths are limiting interest.
“The company is developing larger units better suited to large conventional fields,” says Tanner. “Next year they will be introducing a 29-ft. wide CombCut.”
At this time, the 21-ft. model is priced at $36,000 (Canadian). The 27-ft. model is priced at $44,000. Both models fold down to a 10-ft. width for transport. The company is looking for dealers in both the U.S. and Canada.
Check out the CombCut video at www.FARMSHOW.com.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, SonTanner Sales, Ltd., RR2, Box 9, Regina, Sask. Canada S4P 2Z2 (ph 306 546-5686 or 306 537-6040; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.justcommonsense.eu).
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