ifoam'96 ifoam'96
Book of Abstracts
11th IFOAM Scientific Conference
11-15 August 1996, Copenhagen, Denmark
EcoWeb Denmark


Small Scale Weed Control Technology. P3; 42

Leinonen, P. & Lötjönen, T.

Agricultural research centre, Research station for ecological agriculture, Partala, FIN-51900 Juva, Finland

We have developed technology for small-scale commercial vegetable farms, which typically have about one ha in vegetable production. It consist of a flexible two-wheel pushable wagon, to which all necessary equipment is mounted. Until now, we have integrated a flamer (two types), a hoe (two types), a weed brush and a seeder to our concept. Most of the tools have the same working principle as corresponding tractor equipment.
Most of the equipment were developed during series of field trials, located on our research station and on commercial farms. Test plants were carrot and onion sets. Pre-emergence flaming for carrot is indispensable. Only slight differences were found between the methods for inter-row treatment during two, relatively dry summers. Inter-row flaming controlled weeds better than hoeing or brushing, but damaged carrots as well, resulting a significantly lower yield. Intra-row weed harrowing reduced the time needed for handweeding by 10% but did not reduce yield. For onion sets, selective flaming in the onion row at later growth stages makes the hand weeding nearly unnecessary. Mechanical inter-row treatments were as effective as inter-rowflaming without any negative effects on the crop.
As a conclusion suitable inter-row treatment depends on crop, soil type and weather conditions. A guide for selecting a suitable method will be presented in the poster. Weed control costs, including labour, with our equipment were compared with a hand hoe technology and with a tractor equipment. Economically our technology was most profitable in the range of 0.1-3 ha. However, since the timing in weed control is crucial, the upper size of a vegetable field should be limited to area, which can be treated within a day or two. In practise, our equipment is suitable for fields smaller than 1-1.5 ha.