Small-scale farmers are in great need of scale-appropriate weed management tools. In this project we demonstrated and evaluated the Weed Master, an innovative set of cultivation and flame-weeding equipment, designed and built by a Finnish organic farmer. While the Weed Master tools did not offer an improvement in cultivation efficacy compared to conventional tools, it did offer a dramatic increase in working rates that could reduce weeding costs, or offer opportunities for additional weeding operations and thus greater cumulative efficacy. Through a research blog (gallandt.wordpress.com), YouTube videos (YouTube Channel: zeroseedrain), on-farm demonstrations, and grower meetings we reached approximately 1,000 individuals to inform them of these novel tools that could improve weed management on small- to mid-scale diversified organic vegetable farms.
- Farmer Mark Guzzi demonstrates the Weed Master to MOFGA Director Russell Libby. Photo Credit: Mike Mardosa, University of Maine Public Relations
- Farmer Clayton Carter demonstrates the Weed Master to MOFGA Apprentices. Photo Credit: Mike Mardosa, University of Maine Public Relations.
The field evaluation of the equipment will be completed by late July. This target was reached. However, due to the extremely wet 2009 growing season, the quality of the farmers’ evaluation of the equipment was less than desired. As the project was designed to permit the growers two weeks to work with the tools, this was generally not sufficient time due to the hectic nature of the few field-working days that occurred in the early growing season.
Video editing and initial drafting of the Fact Sheet will occur in Aug and September 2009. We did not produce a Fact Sheet, but rather established a research blog with Weed Master-tagged entries that will permit growers to learn of the on-farm trials of their peers (see: gallandt.wordpress.com). We exceeded my goal related to video production, especially in regards to the quality of our video documentaries. The excellent technical work of David Merrill made for very interesting and high quality production. The five videos related to this project can be viewed at our YouTube Channel: zeroseedrain.
The equipment will be demonstrated the Ag-Demo area of the Common Ground Country Fair in September. We met this goal, although this venue turned out to be less successful than the MOFGA Apprentice demonstrations conducted at the Peacemeal Farm.
The culmination of the project will be a special session on Scale-Appropriate Weed Control Tools at the Farmer to Farmer Conference in November, 2009. We met this goal, and had a very good turnout at the session (70 growers).