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

Robert Schuler sunnfarm at verizon.net
Mon Jul 31 22:07:24 EDT 2006

From: Paul Bucciaglia <pbucciaglia at yahoo.com>
Date: 2006/07/30 Sun PM 06:31:26 CDT
To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] no till, Williams cultivator, basket weeders,	and whell hoes

Paul,  Many of us in south Jersey use basket weeders to maintain a dust mulch, this not only controls weeds but keeps the soil moisture from wicking up. Our soils are flat stone free sandy loam which is well suited for basket weeders. I don't think they work well on stony or heavy soils. I use herbicides to control weeds in the row and dust mulch to keep the alleys clear. When crops get too tall for tractors I run through the row middles with a troy built  set to till 1/2 to 1" deep as fast as the tiller will go, mostly I barely brush the surface
This year I used Sandea herbicide on tomatoes at the 1/2 ounce per acre rate, together with dust mulching I have the most weed free tomatoes ever.
There has been quite a lot of work done in NJ with no till vegetables but except for sweetcorn and pumpkins the results have not been good... Bob.
Sunny Meadow Farm
Bridgeton, NJ

  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        

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