Electrical weeding for bush and cane fruit

This field lab is testing the efficacy and cost efficiency of a mobile electric weeding solution for bush and cane fruit.

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Field Lab Timeline

    11/14/2017 12:00:00 AM
  • Field Lab Planning meeting and in field demo

    Field Lab Planning meeting and in field demo
  • 11/30/2017 12:00:00 AM
  • Field lab planning

    Field lab planning
  • 3/22/2018 12:00:00 AM
  • Develop 2018 testing plan

    Develop 2018 testing plan
  • 5/1/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Begin 2018 trials

    Begin 2018 trials
  • 5/15/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Hold Field Lab meeting and Year 1 in field demo

    Hold Field Lab meeting and Year 1 in field demo
  • 10/31/2018 12:00:00 AM
  • Complete 2018 trials

    Complete 2018 trials
  • 2/28/2019 12:00:00 AM
  • Develop 2019 testing plan

    Develop 2019 testing plan
  • 4/30/2019 11:00:00 PM
  • Begin 2019 trials

    Begin 2019 trials
  • 10/9/2019 11:00:00 PM
  • Hold field lab meeting and Year2 in field demo

    Hold field lab meeting and Year2 in field demo
  • 10/31/2019 12:00:00 AM
  • Complete field trials

    Complete field trials
  • 1/31/2020 12:00:00 AM
  • Final report

    Final report
For further information hover over the above milestone marks
  • Discussion

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  • Achievements

    January 2020

    Trial completed - final report published

    This trial is now complete. For full conclusions, see the ‘Electrical-weeding-in-bush-and-cane-fruit-FINAL’ report in the 'Documents' section above (login required - sign up is free).

    To summarise:

    - This trial showed that electrical weeding could be developed to provide a practical alternative solution to hand weeding or herbicides for fruit growers
    - Multiple treatments, slow travelling speeds and reducing weed biomass showed most benefits, therefore electrical weeding works as part of a series of treatments
    - The machinery was less affected by weather than alternative treatments, potentially helping with workload
    - The weeder was particularly effective on new crops, keeping annual weeds under control and not stimulating germination. There was good control of deep rooting perennial crops
    - There were no negative effects on soil health as measured by CO2 burst analysis
    - The farmer is running the electrical weeding equipment for another year to see if it works on a practical farm scale

    It can be concluded from these trial that electrical weeding is an effective and versatile option for weed control in bush and cane fruit crops. It has also highlighted the potential of electric weeding for control of perennial weeds and in other crops with interest shown from salad crop and vegetable growers.

    Milestone: Final report

    October 2019

    A great day in the field

    For our public demo we were joined at Anthony Snell's Windmill Hill Farm by growers and also BBC Farming Today and Horticulture weekly to see weeding in action and discuss the progress of the trial. Copy this link into your browser to see footage from the day: https://twitter.com/IFarmers/status/1182289395405250566. The BBC Farming Today slot can be listened to here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0009jgk

    Milestone: Hold field lab meeting and Year2 in field demo

    May 2019

    Year 2 trial underway

    The first treatment day was 07/05/19 but was not completed due to a technical hitch. The team returned to the field on 27th June for testing and trials were conducted at two different travelling speeds to test whether that affects performance and efficacy of weed control, see video https://youtu.be/unfGiyweI9w. The next treatment is scheduled for 17th July.

    Milestone: Begin 2019 trials

    March 2019

    Year 2 trial plan and test sites agreed

    ADAS have developed the trial plan for testing which will begin end of April 2019. The trial team met at the test site Windmill Hill Farm on 28th February to discuss the requirements for this year's testing.
    Four test areas have been chosen including organic and non-organic. We will also looking at the effect of travelling speed on efficacy.

    Milestone: Develop 2019 testing plan

    November 2018

    Learning from Year 1 and preparing for Year 2

    Year 1 trials are now complete. See the 'Year 1 trial testing results for more info' post below, or the 'Electrical weeding interim trial data summary - year 1' field lab document for the interim summary. Free login required.
    During the winter we will be taking the learnings from the trials to develop a new generation of the weeder, and planning the 2019 trials.

    Milestone: Complete 2018 trials

    September 2018

    Year 1 trial testing results

    Early results from the electric weeding trial are being analysed, with early indications showing some positive benefits.

    On the public demonstration day, the effect on Creeping thistles was apparent.

    In the trial itself, multiple treatments showed a response with up to 40% less thistles based on numbers counted. Obviously, some of the plants found could be newly germinated so the timing of treatments could be relevant.

    On grass weeds, the control was better when the grass had been mown prior to treatment so there was less biomass to be dealt with. The amount of grass in the plots made control difficult even though early indications were good.

    We will continue to assess the site this autumn and rerun the trial next year.

    There is some development going on during the trial so lessons learned are an important part of the trial as well as the results. Travel speed, timings and species effects will continue to be assessed next year.

    See 'Electrical weeding interim trial data summary - year 1' for the interim summary. Free login required.

    Milestone: Begin 2018 trials

    July 2018

    Field lab article in The Fruit Grower

    The May field lab meeting and demonstration of the weeder was featured in an article in the July edition of The Fruit Grower. To read the article look under Field Lab documents on this page. A free login is required to access the article.

    Milestone: Hold Field Lab meeting and Year 1 in field demo

    May 2018

    Field lab meeting and demo at Windmill Hill Farm

    A group of farmers and growers attended this meeting to see the latest Rootwave prototype mobile electrical weeding array in action. Trials were run in alleys of conventionally farmed chuckleberries, and organically farmed blackcurrants. Organic and non organic farmers and growers in attendance from fruit, vegetable and arable farms, gave input on what is important to them in terms of efficacy, speed of machine and design considerations.

    Milestone: Hold Field Lab meeting and Year 1 in field demo

    May 2018

    2018 trials are underway

    Testing is underway. We have picked three focus areas which are:
    I. Young conventional chuckleberries planted in polythene
    II. Mature organic blackcurrants with no polythene
    III. Young organic blackcurrants planted in polythene
    In case chuckleberries are new to you, a chuckleberry is a redcurrant crossed with a gooseberry and Jostaberry (a Jostaberry is itself a hybrid of a gooseberry and blackcurrant).

    Milestone: Begin 2018 trials

    March 2018

    Public field lab demonstration event organised

    The first public field lab meeting and demonstration for the project will be held on May 16th in Herefordshire. The event is open for registration at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/electrical-weeding-for-bush-and-cane-fruit-registration-44958427868

    Milestone: Hold Field Lab meeting and Year 1 in field demo

    March 2018

    Draft testing protocol developed

    The draft testing protocol has been designed, this included a site visit h to earmark a range of trial site options for the May trials to ensure that they are suitable both in terms of testing the equipment in a range of sites and situations but also location for ease of moving open day visitors around the sites.

    Milestone: Develop 2018 testing plan

    February 2018

    Date set for public field lab meeting

    A meeting will be held on 16th May which will introduce the field lab. More details will be available soon.

    Milestone: Hold Field Lab meeting and Year 1 in field demo

    January 2018

    Presentation at ORFC

    Rob Diprose presented on the Electrical Weeding field lab to a packed room as part of the Mechanical Weeding session on 5th Jan at Oxford Real Farming Conference 2018. Listen to the session at https://soundcloud.com/user-775591787/orfc18-day-2-1030-1130-mechanical-weeding-tried-and-tested.

    Milestone: Field lab planning

    December 2017

    First generation kit demonstrated - outcomes discussed

    We met at a farm in Herefordshire on 14th November to demonstrate the first generation of the weeder, and to plan the field lab. Andy Diprose gave a brief introduction to Rootwave/Ubiqutek and where this project sits in their plans. Jerry Alford and Simone Osborn introduced the Innovative Farmers field lab structure. The group then went to see a demonstration of the 1st generation weeding machine.

    The machine was demonstrated first in a polytunnel with conventionally grown raspberries. And subsequently in a field of organically grown blackcurrants - see image [login needed].

    Andy and Rob Diprose explained that the equipment as demonstrated today was underpowered and so we would see limited efficacy of week kill, however it would demonstrate the principle of weeding a clear strip using a vehicle. The group was able to see the potential of the 1st generation machine, which includes a series of freely rotating electrodes which touch the ground and can adapt to different ground levels.

    Following the demonstration, the group discussed the set up of the trial and field lab. It was agreed that key measurements would need to be:
    • Speed of travel for effective kill (request from growers of a minimum of 4mph).
    • Efficacy of kill – measure this for single application, and multiple applications. How many applications are needed. Currently for conventional crops there are 4-5 applications annually.
    • What regrowth of weeds can be expected?
    • Efficacy with perennials / annuals
    • Look at efficacy in conventional & organic
    • How is efficacy effected by conditions – wet /dry?
    • Is there any damage to the bush and cane fruit bushes?
    • Consider some soil health testing to observe whether treatments have an impact on soil health.
    • A record of unintended consequences both negative and beneficial will be kept.

    Milestone: Field Lab Planning meeting and in field demo

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