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Innovative New Methods Of Mechanical Weed Control
Dave Button can clip problem weeds between rows with his Row Shaver or clip weeds above the crop canopy with his Row Trimmer. His innovative new weed control equipment earned him a place as one of 10 finalists for the $50,000 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge.
The 2-part system eliminates in-crop competition for organic farmers and reduces the production of herbicide resistant weed seeds for conventional farmers. Both units are designed to work on the Hagie 284 high-clearance, self-propelled, front-mount boom sprayer.
“I came up with a quick-connect for the Row Shaver and the Row Trimmer,” says Button. “We also have an adaptor for the spray boom. It takes only half an hour to switch from one to another and makes the sprayer a more fundamentally useful tool.”
Frustrated with ever more difficult to control herbicide resistant weeds and seeing the potential for weed control in organic crops, Button came up with the concept about 6 years ago. He built a crude one-row version of what he wanted, and that winter he tried it out on onion fields near McGregor, Texas.
After several years and multiple redesigns, Button is ready to market his weed control system based on the twin-tank, front-boom Hagie sprayer. It will require no manufacturing, simply assembling off-the shelf components, many made in Kansas.
Each row unit for the Row Shaver features 4 blades, with length options to match row spacings of 18 to 36 in. The hydraulic motor on top of each row unit drives blades on a flail mower-type head. If they hit something like a rock, they will bounce back. Behind each cutting head is an adjustable gauge wheel with foam-filled tires on a trailing link suspension system. An air bag assist lift on parallel linkage at the toolbar lets the row units float across the ground.
“The air bag lifts the row unit, allowing it to skip across the ground surface with the wheel bouncing every 4 to 5 ft.,” says Button. “It can go from skimming the ground to riding 12 in. above the surface if desired.”
Row units hang down from a toolbar with guards and deflectors to protect row crops from the blades. Changing row spacing requires adjusting the units on the toolbar, as well as changing out blades.
A hooded sprayer behind the blades allows the option of combining mechanical and chemical controls. Optional fertilizer tubes installed to the rear of the spray units make side dressing while cutting weeds a possibility.
“We have meters to track motor speed for each row unit,” says Button. “They are monitored from a screen in the cab. Once in the crop, the driver can’t see the unit working, just weeds falling. If anything happens, we want the operator to know immediately.”
The Row Trimmer is a mini-combine head. Its hydraulically driven sicklebar and reel float above the crop. The reel is designed to pull weed heads into the sicklebar. If they start to pile up on the bar, the undulating curves of the reel push them off to the side. Currently only 15 1/2 ft. wide, Button plans to expand it to a 40-ft. folding unit.
“The Row Trimmer worked right out of the box,” says Button. “We used it on sunflower escapes, velvet leaf and pigweed. If you trim before the seeds pollinate, they won’t grow.”
While he’s satisfied that everything works as planned and is taking orders, Button is already working on upgrades. He is planning to move the supplemental engine to the rear of the Hagie. This would let him reinstall the left tank for more spray volume.
His current prototype is a 5-row spacing system. Increasing the number of row units will be necessary for wide scale row-crop adoption. That will require a larger sprayer to carry the additional row units and the longer toolbar.
“Hagie makes a larger sprayer with a toolbar for an all-hydraulic driven, 12-row corn detassler in place of the spray boom,” says Button. “If it has enough hydraulic capacity to drive 11 Row Shaver units, it could be a productive unit.
“We’re selling the Row Shaver units for $8,000 to $10,000 each, depending on options and installation,” says Button. “With chemical weed control costing from $35 to $50 per acre, it won’t take long for the Row Shaver and the Row Trimmer to pay for themselves.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Row Shaver Systems, 184 NE 10 Rd., Great Bend, Kan. 67530 (ph 316 516- 2477; www.rowshaver.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #1