Zapping Weeds, Smashing Seeds

With growing concerns about herbicide resistance, Australia no-tillers are looking at new non-chemical ways to control serious weed problems. While the 2013 no-till acreage in Australia was 43.7 million acres, there’s some thought that the country’s no-till acres have declined in recent years due to herbicide resistance worries.

As a result, the Aussies are looking at several innovative methods of non-chemical weed control.

Microwaving Weeds

University of Melbourne engineer Graham Brodie is wrapping up a 10-year project that focused on the use of microwaves to zap weeds in no-till cropping systems. Microwave energy is applied to the weeds via a trailer that contains four microwave generators powered by a tractor’s PTO.

“These are 2-kilowatt microwave generators, about twice the output of a household microwave, and each can be turned on and off independently,” he says. “The machine runs between the crop rows. It can travel over the canopy, but still deliver the microwave energy at ground level using a series of tubes.

“The longer we go down this path of zero-till, the more issues we’re going to have with herbicide resistance,” says Brodie. “Because this doesn’t have contact with the ground, it’s compatible with zero-till farming.”

Crush the Seeds

With the effectiveness of many herbicides being compromised due to weed resistance, Aaron Hager is looking at non-chemical tactics to integrate into a weed management system.

Hager and Adam Davis, both crop scientists at the University of Illinois, imported one of Australia’s Harrington Seed Destructors, which is a portable mill that…

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Lessiter frank

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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