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He Built His Own Potato Bug Sweeper
After his 2021 potato crop was devastated by Colorado potato beetles, Jason Matthews knew he needed to do something. Operating a chemical-free farm, he figured out a mechanical solution. Over a couple of afternoons, using parts from a La-Z-Boy chair, lawn mower, signboard, belting, and a bucket, he rigged up a bug sweeper. Though not ideal, it helped, and by mid-July, he and his wife, Lisa, were selling tennis ball size Superior potatoes at the farmers market and their J&L Farms stand on Prince Edward Island.
Matthews based his bug sweeper on a walk-behind model he had seen in a potato museum. He designed his to be ground-driven and pulled behind a tractor. The lawn mower rear axle runs between the potato rows and the chair frame fits perfectly with holes that line up with a lawnmower spindle that spins a piece of belting to knock bugs into a 5-gal. bucket cut in half and bolted together.
He pulled the sweeper through his acre of 220-ft. rows of potatoes once or twice a week when the bugs started coming.
“Because it was ground-driven, it required driving extremely slow,” Matthews says, and it only swept one row at a time.
“I plan to build it larger to do four or six rows and make it PTO that will allow height and speed adjustments,” he says. “Also, I will run a piece of cloth for the bugs to hit, to absorb the impact.”
Many of the bugs hitting the sign board bounce to the ground or even hit him, Matthews says.
Despite its flaws, the bug sweeper helped. The plants had better looking leaves and produced nice size potatoes.
“It generated a stir in the community,” Matthews says. “Most farms reach for the chemical tool, and we like to rely on physics.”
A video of the bug sweeper in action is on J&L Farms’ Facebook page.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jason Matthews, J&L Farms, 1681 Rt. 131, Arlington, PEI, Canada C0B 1Y0 (ph 902-888-7817; jlfarms17592@yahoo.ca; Facebook: www.facebook.com/www.jlfarms.ca/).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #6