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Vine Crusher Crushes Weed Seeds Too
A potato vine crusher designed to control overwintering European corn borers (ECB) crushes weed seeds too. Developed 10 years ago by researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the crusher was 80 to 89.5 percent successful in crushing ECB larvae. This past year AAFC researcher Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill found it could reduce weed seed survival by 60 to 95 percent, depending on seed size.
“Compared to other harvest weed seed controls integrated into a combine or pulled behind, the vine crusher is easy to build,” says McKenzie-Gopsill. “Anyone could build one or have it fabricated locally and add it to their combine.”
The exciting thing about the potential for the vine crusher is its simplicity and cost. It consists of two brushes and two counter-rotating metal rollers attached below the discharge conveyer on a harvester. The rollers have raised lines that enhance impact on the seeds. Tension on the rollers is maintained by two heavy-duty springs. Hydraulic motors power the rollers. The design is size neutral, with off-the-shelf components sized to the particular harvester.
McKenzie-Gopsill estimates it could be built for well under $10,000. Plans are available as is a descriptive fact sheet.
“It’s most effective on large seeds like volunteer canola, barnyard grass, and yellow foxtail, passing them through alone and with biomass,” says McKenzie-Gopsill. “Smaller seeds like lambsquarters and pigweed were more variable.”
Initial research into effectiveness involved passing weed seeds alone and with biomass through a stationary vine crusher. While effectiveness went down with the size of the seed and the amount of biomass passing through, even a partial impact can be important. Recent U.S. research with Palmer amaranth, an extremely invasive relative of pigweed, showed that even a 20 percent reduction in weed seed germination can prevent an increase in the invasive weed’s population.
“Our data in the simulated harvest shows that we are having a much greater than 20 percent reduction on species not as invasive as Palmer amaranth,” says McKenzie-Gopsill.
Located at the Charlottetown Research and Development Centre, Charlottetown, P.E.I., McKenzie-Gopsill is focused on weed control in potatoes. He’ll be testing the vine crusher’s impact in the field this fall.
“Within our region, harvest weed seed control is a new technology and not well known,” says McKenzie-Gopsill. “We’re hoping for promising results to get control of our weed seeds.”
If successful in potatoes, he recognizes the potential for the vine crusher in other crops. “We haven’t focused on grain combines, but we’re certainly interested in testing it,” says McKenzie-Gopsill.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dr. Andrew McKenzie-Gopsill, 440 University Ave., Room 221, Charlottetown, P.E.I. Canada C1A 4N6 (ph 902-314-3683; andrew.mckenzie-gopsill@AGR.GC.CA).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #5