[Market-farming] no till, Williams cultivator, basket weeders, and whell hoes

Paul Bucciaglia pbucciaglia at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 30 19:31:26 EDT 2006

  Some unsolicited, heat-induced rambling:
  -for a commercial veg farmer to get into no till requires  investments in equipment and changes in growing practices that will cost money in the short term in terms of capital aquisition, management time, and potential crop failures.  Its a great concept, and somethiing I hope to start experimenting with, but for most market farmers (earning most or all of their living from farming) its not an easy thing to jump into.  Too bad the universities throw millions at biotech, and only a few daring souls (notably at Virginia and Rodale) venture into no till veg.  Even fewer have demonstrated commercial success using only organic methods (no herbicides).  I am not a nay sayer, in fact in 5 years my goal is to have 1/4 of my acres under no till (but I ain't starting with arugula and carrots, baby!). I think its imporant to first make sure ones business is solvent, then start experimenting.   I do think people need to more clearly think out their reccomendations to a grower to
 'just go no-till', theres a lot involved.
  -re cultivators for roots and alliums:  if you have relatively stone free soil, the combo of a basket weeder and a tine weeder (Lely or Williams both work in my experience, there are other out there (Einbock is one) I haven't tried) is hard to beat.  Use the basket weeder to weed very small seedlings and newly transplanted plants.  Once the crop is a bit larger or transplants have rooted (ie. they survive the tug test!!!) use tine weeder.  Usually a fair bit of hoeing and rogueing is requried as well.  One great use for a basket weeder is to prepare a stale seedbed--let weeds germ (but not get to first true leaf stage) and then till top half inch to kill weeds, repeat 1 to 2X more after rain or irrigation and you will kill 95% of weeds before you even plant.  THis works best in late spring to late summer when enough heat and moisture are present to kill the summer annuals (pigweed, crabgrass, lambsquarters, etc) that are our biggest headache.  Once you get a basket weeder
 system going it should replace wheel hoe work you are currently doing, and yoiu will be very happy with the speed and precision of this tool.  I have 2 basket weeders, one with all baskets pushed togehtert permanenly mounted on an IH 140, and one 3 row basket weeder on AC G.  I have another G for seeders, hillers, and finger weedres.  I got a thing for old cultivating tractors.  They are cheap, and were the state of the art for killing weeeds without chemicals before the world discovered better living through chemistry.  Still great machines.  And very cool and fun.  
  -Hi David.  Hope you are a little cooler up there in MA.
  Paul Bucciaglia
  Fort Hill Farm, New Milford CT
market-farming-request at lists.ibiblio.org wrote:
1. Re: Williams Tool System (Tradingpost)
2. Re: Williams Tool System (John Hendrickson)


Message: 1
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 14:42:51 -0600
From: "Tradingpost" 
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Williams Tool System
To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
Message-ID: <200607251442510996.00ABEDEA at mail.lobo.net>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Sounds like somebody could avoid a lot of work and expense, and improve
production by going no-till with winter cover crops. It's heavily
researched and reported by ATTRA and others. You can do it with or without

paul tradingpost at lobo.net

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. 


Message: 2
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2006 18:33:30 -0500
From: John Hendrickson 
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] Williams Tool System
To: Market Farming 
Message-ID: < at wiscmail.wisc.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed

I know a couple here in Wisconsin who are very pleased with their Williams 
Tool System. They grow about 3 acres of mixed crops and use it for stale 
bedding and with a variety of sweeps and knives. I do not think their soil 
is particularly stoney. I would agree that it is unlikely to be as precise 
and effective as some belly-mounted set-ups. I was told by the Market Farm 
Implement folks that they were preparing a video about the Williams 
cultivator and I asked for one when it was ready but haven't seen anything yet.

Now for my cultivation question: what specific cultivators would folks 
recommend for the following crops:

1. Roots (carrots, beets, turnips)

2. Alliums (onions, shallots, leeks and scallions)

I already have a wheel hoe and find this very helpful for both alliums and 
roots but need something tractor-mounted as I look to expand. Thanks.


At 02:42 PM 7/25/2006 -0600, you wrote:

>Sounds like somebody could avoid a lot of work and expense, and improve
>production by going no-till with winter cover crops. It's heavily
>researched and reported by ATTRA and others. You can do it with or without
>paul tradingpost at lobo.net
>Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
>--Henry David Thoreau
>*********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********
>On 7/25/2006 at 4:28 PM David Inglis wrote:
> >> Is it God Sent, like they say it is?
> >There is no such thing.
> >Like Paul said, we use it as part of a system. Basket weeders,
> >Bezzirides etc. Unlike Paul I do like the side knives etc but I am
> >mostly using mine to clean up to within two inches of the row and
> >dealing with the in row weeds in other ways. I set mine up with a
> >Bezzirides guidance system that runs on the edge of the bed but unlike
> >the guidance system offered by Market Farm Implements it does not use
> >any extra land. Our Williams is mounted on the back of a Kubota 245H
> >with belly mount weeders; because of the guidance system I can set up
> >the knives and sweeps, put down as many of the tines as the crop canopy
> >allows and go; no looking back.
> >But: The Williams will make YOUR land look like a Pebble beach because
> >the tines grab any rocks and flip them over to be washed by the next
> >rain. If you really have that many rocks then, short of going through
> >the place with a decent rock picker, twice, no cultivator will solve
> >your problem except maybe one of those French reverse action tillers
> >with an internal screen that leaves all the stones at the bottom of the
> >tillage depth.
> >We have also found that if you go over the row the Williams will pull
> >out starts that have not rooted very well yet. Once rooted most crops
> >can be gone over with all the tines down but for the same reason rooted
> >weeds will not be taken out with just the tines. It works great for
> >blind weeding for us even with what I would regard as moderate amounts
> >of rocks.
> >Good luck mate.
> >Hi Paul.
> >David
> >Mahaiwe Harvest CSA
> >

John Hendrickson
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1535 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Paul Bucciaglia
Fort Hill Farm
Organic Vegetables, Herbs, and Flowers
18 Fort Hill Rd.
New Milford CT 06776
(860) 350-3158
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