There is no easy way to control weeds on a farm.
If you farm conventionally, herbicides are the obvious answer, but you must look out for herbicide resistance.
If you farm organically, you can use an organically approved chemical or just remove the weeds yourself with a hoe. Neither is an easy task.
There is also the idea of using a tine harrow for weed control. It’s not a new concept, but for many farmers going increasingly to no-till, it’s hard to justify using one of these machines when the goal is to do as little disturbance to the soil as possible.
Still, a Netherlands-based company is banking on a growing interest for tine harrow weed control as herbicide resistance is growing and organic farmers still need good options.
Treffler, a company in the Netherlands, has been selling manual and hydraulic tine harrows for 15 years, but just three years ago started selling in the U.S.
Man@Machine is the licensed seller of these machines in the U.S. and Canada, and the company was recently at a farm equipment show in central New York.
The company’s tine harrows come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from 5 feet to 50 feet on a 3-point hitch.
The machine was originally developed for organic farmers, but Ana Pelgrom, who co-owns the Man@Machine with her husband, Jos, says it has lots of applications in conventional systems.
“They’re looking for alternative ways,” she says, “and what’s a better way than to see from your counterpart organic farmer what’s been working for 15 years?”
The tines themselves are the heart of the implement. Unlike most harrows that are designed with a coil system, these tines will lift to fit the contour of the field with even downward pressure.
“This a real difference in other tine weeders. That, in combination with the adjustability of the tines from your tractor allows you to go in there and find just the right balance but allows you to go in there when the crop is still emerging and really, really tiny,” she says. “So, what you can do, even before emergence, is you can go in there and take care of that first flush of weeds.”
Downward pressure can be adjusted from as little as 1 pound of downward pressure per tine to 11 pounds of downward pressure, which is handy when the cash crop is quickly emerging.
“But it’s that early stage that really makes a difference,” she says, whether it’s going through the rows or between the rows.
She says another advantage of the tines is that they won’t deviate to the left or right, ensuring that no two tines will go into any one groove.
“Treffler really embraces the principle of good soil management,” she says.
Anywhere from 60 hp to 80 hp will work up to the 40-foot machine. The company’s 50-foot machine will need more horsepower.
Pelgrom says the company has customers in 15 states, mostly in the Midwest and West. The Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania owns three of the machines, which are used in its organic crop fields.
The machines fold up in five parts, for a maximum width of 9 feet going down the road.
Many options are available, including the option of hard metal tines with carbide steel on the tip. Pelgrom says they will increase the longevity of the tines and are made for areas with lots of rock.
The machines have a combined spring system where an inboard compression spring regulates pressure up to 1.3 pounds per tine and an external tension spring handles pressure up to 11 pounds per tine.
The hydraulic tine pressure adjustment works with the hydraulic system of the tractor, which is connected is to a cylinder on the harrow that regulates the tine pressure while driving. A large dimension scale from the top of the machine can be read from the driver’s seat of the tractor.
You can connect the harrow to the front of the machine and you can also get them with seeders installed, which she says many farmers in the Midwest have since they use the machines on much larger acreage.
For more information, visit manatmachine.com.