The Weed Weasel Prototype: Electric Walking Tractor

Project Overview

ONE18-324
Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2018: $14,480.00
Projected End Date: 04/15/2019
Grant Recipient: Woodmetalcanvas
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Jan Yoder
Woodmetalcanvas

Information Products

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Pest Management: cultivation

    Proposal abstract:

    The Weed Weasel is a light electric walking tractor for cultivating beds of vegetables. The working prototype I built spans a single bed and carries a high clearance tool bar, wheel track cultivators, and a tine weeder (blind cultivator).  It is operated by a single person walking in the wheel path and using a thumb throttle for power. The Weed Weasel fills a niche between hand-pushed wheel hoes and small cultivating tractors (such as the Allis Chalmers “G”).  It is safe, creates no pollution in the field, and minimizes soil compaction. It is small enough to be maneuvered in a greenhouse.  It is fun and easy to learn on, so new employees can operate it. The prototype is quiet enough that the farmer can hear her baby-monitor, allowing her to cultivate while the baby naps. This grant seeks to complete the second phase of prototyping, build three Weasels and supply them to collaborating farms, support those farms through a season of use and testing, then create open-source plans and an explanatory video.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This grant seeks to build three Weed Weasels, support three local farms in their adaptation and use of the Weasel, and then produce open-source plans and a video so farms and small shops can make more Weasels. I’m working with three farms that are close to my shop (so there can be good tech-support and also a good feedback channel for improving the design), and are also well connected socially in the region (the farmers sit on boards, attend conferences, and write and speak at events). My hope is that as early adapters these farmers will help promote the use of the Weasel and also help identify the farms and situations where the technology can be most effective.  In return for taking the time to test and criticize the prototypes, at the conclusion of the grant the three farms will have the long-term loan of the prototype Weasels. After a season of use and improvement, I’ll produce step-by-step instructions for building the Weasel and publish them on the farm technology website, Farmhack (www.farmhack.org) .  In addition, the grant will provide funding for a youtube video to showcase and explain the design.

    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.