See Weeds Perish Up Close and In Person at the Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day! – Vegetable Crops Hotline

See Weeds Perish Up Close and In Person at the Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day!

September 25th began cloudy and gray, with a hint of autumn in the air and the bustle of field day preparation on Ohio State’s Wooster campus. The Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day, an annual event by The Land Connection, partnered with Ohio State this year to bring mechanical weed control demonstrations to northeast Ohio.

There is no better place to see a huge variety of mechanical weed control equipment than this field day. The event serves both vegetable growers and grain producers at large and small scale – there is literally something for everyone. Hand tools, two-wheel tractors, large row crop cultivators, and autonomous tools showed off their capabilities in crops specifically planted for the field day. Farmers from across the US and Canada attended this year’s event. It’s a great place to meet other growers using a more “mixed methods” approach to weed control, or those that are farming fully organically.


Figure 1. Planet Jr. antique tractor cultivator demo by Staufer Farms in the event’s Walk-Behind Alley session

Figure 1. Planet Jr. antique tractor cultivator demo by Staufer Farms in the event’s Walk-Behind Alley session (Photo by Ashley Adair).

The Land Connection makes an effort to host this event in a different state each year. I attended this same event last year at Michigan State’s Southwest Research and Extension Center near Benton Harbor, a site focused on vegetable research with profoundly sandy soil. I was enamored with the variety of tools and opportunities to talk directly with equipment dealers and manufacturers. But I was still curious to see how the tools I saw would perform in less-forgiving soils. Luckily, Wooster’s soils are just what I needed to see! Heavier-textured silty loams, with a few rocks here and there, gave the tools on display a bigger challenge.

Wooster did not disappoint. Some tools performed better than I would have expected in the heavier soils on-site, including the whisker-weeding hand tools. Most tools called for different depth adjustments in heavy soils compared to sandy soils since there is a higher risk of burying small seedlings and creating compaction with stickier soil. Many tools have different setup suggestions for different soil textures and crop conditions – at this event, you can ask the equipment reps or your fellow farmer for suggestions on how to improve the tool’s performance.

The higher-tech tools, like the Carbon Robotics laser weeder, are generating a lot of excitement but aren’t practical or affordable… yet. But it sure is exciting to see a laser vaporizing palmer amaranth and barnyardgrass seedlings into thin air.

Tools on display included the following:

Vegetable crops

  • BCS implements – rototiller, power harrow, V-cultivator, plastic mulch layer, flail mower, rotary plow, sickle bar mower, utility trailer
  • Carbon Robotics autonomous laser weeder
  • Garford in-row camera-guided cultivator
  • Magic cultivator and whisker weeder wheel hoe
  • Q-hoe whisker weeder
  • Planet Jr. antique walk-behind tractor and cultivator
  • Sutton Ag camera-guided cultivator
  • Terrateck Cultitrack + KULT-Kress cut-away discs
  • Terrateck edge-of-plastic brush weeder
  • Thiessen rear-mounted steerable cultivator
  • Tilmor 520Y with basket weeder and Einböck tine weeder
  • Tilmor Power OX 240 walk-behind tractor with tender plant hoe, finger weeders, spring hoe weeder, Thiessen tine weeder, and basket weeder

Video 1. Magic whisker weeder wheel hoe demonstration during Walk‐Behind Alley presentation (Video by Ashley Adair).

Row crops

  • Accura Flow cultivator
  • Hatzenbichler Air Flow tine harrow
  • Henke Buffalo 6400 cultivator
  • LEMKEN Rubin speed disc
  • Einböck Chopstar camera-guided cultivator
  • Einböck Aerostar Fusion tine harrow
  • TH Fabrication Swinging Spider cultivator
  • Treffler tine harrow
  • Rotary hoe (with retrofitted Ho-Bits spoons)


Video 2. Treffler tine harrow set to 7 to show how a more aggressive setup affects V2 corn seedlings (Video by Ashley Adair).

I think there is no better substitute for seeing how a tool works than getting in the field with it. If you’re interested in attending the Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day, expect to see it scheduled in mid-to late-September. You can check back with The Land Connection in the summer of 2024 or keep an eye on your Purdue Extension newsletters for the program advertisement!

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