New Way To Control Weeds
"We think it's one of the biggest break-throughs in weed control to come along in years," says Melvin Dykes, sales director for Lasco, Inc., a Mississippi-based firm which, after three years of research and development, has introduced the Electrical Discharge System (EDS) for postemergence weed control.
The new concept in weed control is being used in both industrial and agricultural applications. Machines specifically designed to "zap" weeds electrically on farms and ranches carry the name Lightening IV. Four units operating in a variety of field crops throughout the south and southwest last year performed "with flying colors," according to Dykes.
Here, according to Dykes, is how the new weed "electrocuter" works:
"It kills weeds on contact by forcing the electrolytic solution within the plant's vascular system to conduct electrical current," he explains. "Electrical energy dissipated within the conducting solution manifests a very rapid temperature rise and expansion into the vapor phase. The resulting thermal and physical stresses rupture cell walls and break down the plant's vascular system and kill it."
Because it electrocutes weeds on contact its primary use is as a postemergence treatment to "rescue" crops being overtaken by cockleburs, or other tall-growing annuals. The Lightening IV, available initially in a six row (38 in. spacing) model, mounts on most any tractor of at least 100 hp. and utilizes the tractor's pto to drive a rear-mounted generator. New models to be introduced this year can be set to selectively "zap" all sizes of weeds growing in the row, as well as between the rows of certain less-sensitive crops. "Individual crops and weeds differ in sensitivity to the electric charge," Dykes explains. "For example, on tree plantations, the Lightening IV has been used to control broadleaf weeds in rows of Sycamore trees. The fields are treated at power levels sufficient to kill the weeds but not the less sensitive seedlings."
The Lightening IV also is available with special equipment for handling jobs other than weed control, such as "burning off" or top-killing potato vines to speed harvest.
Key advantages cited for the new Electrical Discharge System include:
• No chemicals are used to kill weeds.
• The EDS concept isn't limited to a few specific crops, as are most individual herbicides.
• There are no drift or carryover problems, making it harmless to the soil and the ecology, according to Dykes.
Fields can be weeded electrically with less dependence on suitable weather than is the case with chemical control, Dykes points out.
He adds that the Lightening IV has proved particularly well suited to weed control in irrigation canals and ditches, where the water is to be used on a variety of crops and the owner doesn't want to risk possible contamination by chemical residues. The concept also is suited to control of tall weeds in pastures without damaging desired pasture grasses. Research is underway to determine the machine's ability to control cactus and mesquite in range areas.
"Our company originally explored use of laser beams to control weeds. We've since learned that high voltage electricity is more practical and economical."
Instead of selling machines, Lasco is leasing them to custom applicators who in turn will custom-treat and "rescue" fields and crops badly infested with cockleburs or other tall growing weeds.
Several safety interlocks, incorporated into the high-voltage machine, must all be "satisfied" to make it run. For example, the machine won't run if the operator isn't in the seat, if the machine loses its electrical ground connection, or its forward motion. "These patented safety features, along with operator training and supervision, help insure safety for both operator and bystanders," says Dykes.
For more details, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Lasco, Inc., Box 187, Vicksburg, Miss. 39180 (ph. 601 638-8001).

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