Video Clip: Bezzerides Cultivator on Applefield Farm from Vegetable Farmers and their Weed Control Machines

Organic Agriculture June 02, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Source:

Vegetable Farmers and their Weed-Control Machines [DVD]. V. Grubinger and M.J. Else. 1996. University of Vermont Extension. Available for purchase at http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/Videos/weedvideo.htm (verified 31 Dec 2008).

This is a Vegetable Farmers and their Weed Control Machines video clip.

Featuring

Steve and Ray Mong, Applefield Farm. Stow, MA.

Audio Text

I’ve got a set-up here of Bezzerides or Bezzerides or however it’s said, that we’ve had for probably 4 or 5 years now and for the most part it works pretty well for us. We’ve got fairly bony ground, a lotta, small gravelly soil, and even some fairly good-sized pieces of gravel. So, I had a Lilliston cultivator and the first time I put it out in the soil it clogged right up with some stones caught in the tines and I sold that for what I paid for it so, that was one experiment. I got a piece of equipment in that had some Buddingh basket cultivators on it and I knew right away that it wasn’t going to work in my soil so I got rid of that. Initially we started out with just sweeps. You could put, when the corn was still small, just starting, the first leaf coming out, you could go could go in about as slow as the tractor could go, with the cultivators real close trying not to throw dirt at it and you'd just go blind after a little while. Just all that corn you just have to watch it so close and killing half of it. What I like about the Bezzerides set-up, is that once you spend the time and get it set up right, it does take a little bit of trial and error, getting things adjusted and leveled out right for the soil, but once you got it set up your cultivation speed can be, can be quite high. When the crop gets bigger or on crops that don’t mind being hilled, those spyders can be turned the opposite direction and like a straight disc they throw dirt in, but they don’t throw it real heavy, they’ll do a, make a rather shallow hill but they’ll do a nice job hilling up and smothering weeds that way. So you can get in and do it a couple times without the hill getting too high to get at.

Now we use the Bezzerides setup for an awful lot of the crops on the farm. You know, primarily corn, peas, beans in particular, but all the flowers, we do 20 different varieties of cut and dried flowers. Peppers if we grow 'em in dirt instead of plastic which we do sometimes, pumpkins. And we grow almost everything there is, so we use the Bezzerides for almost everything. We run the spyders mounted up front so the spyders are going along catching weeds, moving dirt. The way they’re set up for the initial cultivation they’re actually pulling dirt away from the crop, catching any weeds that are there. And then the spring hoes which are behind are set up relatively close to the crop, they do a little bit of soil movement and they also hill up some dirt in between the rows so you’re actually getting cultivation 100% through the row. You’re not leaving a blind space down the row center which every place else is easy to get, it's between the plants in the row that’s always the hard place to get the weeds. And I have found that the spyder spring hoe set-up does that better than anything I’ve ever tried before at a fairly decent rate of speed, which at one row at a time, speed has some advantages.

There’s a couple of adjustments we make, we carry the one wrench we need to do it with us on the tractor all the time. Other than the up and down just to be sure you’re riding in the dirt, the spyders themselves need to be adjusted in and out depending on the canopy of the crop. You don’t want to be yanking out the crop so when, let's say corn is very small, you run down and have them quite close together, as the corn gets larger and gets some leaf, you move them apart. The other adjustment is to turn the spyders the other way to actually do some hilling for those crops that don’t mind being hilled.

With our corn strategy, real quick is that the initial thing is that we rototill it to start out with a clean seed bed, plant right away, 3, 4, 5 days depending on the time of year depending on how quickly the corn germinates we’ll go in and run a Lely tine cultivator, it’s a blind cultivation well before the corn is even coming up through the ground. Like I say an average of about 4 days after we plant just to try to keep the weeds from flushing up. Shortly after the corn comes through, like at spike stage or just after spike, we’ll Lely blind cultivate one more time. And if the weather’s been good and the timing is right and we didn’t get caught up doing something else and lose track of the corn we can get it to where the corn is up 4, 5, 6 inches tall and the only weeds that are there are really itty-bitty. And you come through with the Bezzerides and do a bit of hilling and stuff and the corn can be real clean. We may Bezzerides twice, maybe hill, again it depends on the time of year, how quickly the corn is growing, whether it’s early planted corn or late season corn last time through we’ll just put discs on and do a rather aggressive hilling both to smother anything that still survived. Also to help hold the corn up if we get a thunder storm or whatever, it can make quite a difference. Corn I’d say by the time we do that final hilling, it’s probably about yea high just scraping underneath the belly of the tractor. What we try to do is two Lelys and I would say two Bezzerides through the field and then a disk hill so it’s probably five cultivations, two blind and two Bezzerides and one quick throw the dirt at it.

This video project was funded in part by the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (USDA). 

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.