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Potatoe Vine Killer Uses Anhydrous to Freeze Plants
Freezing potato vines to death is a lot cheaper than using chemicals to kill them, according to North Dakota farmer-inventor Dean Meberg.
Vines must be killed before potatoes can be dug out of the ground. "Chemicals keep getting more expensive and don't always get the job done in one pass. One fall we had an early frost and I liked the way it killed the vines. That's when I set out to build a machine that would do the freezing for us," says Meberg, noting that the idea has been tried in the past. "It never caught on because at the time anhydrous was much more ex-pensive than chemicals. Now chemicals or acids cost $12 to $25 per acre to apply while the cost for anhydrous is only about $5."
The vine freezer mounts on a 4 by 4-in. toolbar. Sealed 4 1/2 ft. long chambers over each row are formed out of 1 1/2-in. sq. tubing. "Gas is forced into the vines near the ground so that as the gas rises it has to go up through the leaves of the plant. The gas freezes the cells in the leaves, causing them to rupture and drawing moisture out of the plant. The shock of the cold and the sudden moisture loss kills the plant," explains Meberg.
Anhydrous feeds into the chambers via hoses mounted on the lower trailing edge of the front shields that guide vines into the machines. Meberg uses regular anhydrous-type 3/8-in. clear plastic hose with a nylon splice at the end to add extra pressure for better penetration.
"We apply 5O lbs. o fan hydrous to the acre at speeds of about 4.5 mph. We can do 10 acres an hour with our 6-row machine. We had excellent results in 1987, the first year we used it. We had some trouble in 1988 because the plants were not as tall and there was less moisture in the plants due to the drought," says Meberg, who'd like to find a manufacturer to build the machine. "Some companies have told me they're afraid of liability problems because the machine uses anhydrous. But it's safe to operate if you take precautions. We wear a mask at all times when operating it in case the wind changes or there's a hose break. Ordinarily gas is sealed in the unit. If you see any coming out of the front end of the unit, you're applying too much gas."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dean Meberg, Rt. 2, Box 18A, Park River, N. Dak. 58270 (ph 701284-7014).


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1989 - Volume #13, Issue #2