Improving Weed Control on the Small Farm: Evaluation of Scale-Appropriate Cultivation Tools

Project Overview

GNE10-004
Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2010: $8,700.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Grant Recipient: University of Maine
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Eric Gallandt
University of Maine

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn
  • Vegetables: carrots

Practices

  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Pest Management: cultivation, physical control, weed ecology

    Proposal abstract:

    In this project our aim is to evaluate a wide range of hand weeding tools, including (1) efficacy and working rates; and (2) farmers' qualitative assessment of ergonomics and ease of use. During the 2009 growing season, Dr. Gallandt's research group used a NESARE Partnership Grant to conduct on-farm evaluation of hand weeding tools, with a particular focus on the Weed Master®, an innovative cultivator from Finland (see Attachment 1-1, 1-2). Surprisingly, the efficacy of weed control was generally similar among a wide range of hand and pushed tools (Attachment 1-3, 1-4). Working rates, however, were much greater for the pushed tools-- the wheel hoe and Weed Master (Attachment 1-5). While we were encouraged by this potential for greater efficiency in weeding, discussions with these farmers made it clear that their choice of a favorite tool was based on more than efficacy and working rates. Thus, in this project we aim to better understand both the quantitative and qualitative dimensions of farmers' decisions to use particular hand tools for weeding.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Conduct qualitative evaluations to compare several familiar, traditional hand tools to newer innovative designs

    2. Conduct quantitative evaluations to determine how working rate and efficacy relate to qualitative factors

    3. Determine through the interview process which perceptions contribute to tool selection, and how this relates to the adoption of new technology

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.