Friday, June 8, 2012

Cool Technology of the Week

Running a farm on nights and weekends, I've had to learn an entirely different set of technologies i.e. what tractor technologies are needed to manage pasture, woodland, manure piles, hay etc?  What chainsaw is the right balance between power and ease of use?

Two technologies I had not imagined I would need to master are clearing weeds on a massive scale and managing poison ivy by the ton.

For weed control (not poison ivy), the environmentally friendly and effective management tool is a modified flamethrower.   I know that sounds very "Mad Max" but it works!  I use the Red Dragon backpack model to keep my roads and paths clear of weeds.   Heating weeds to the point that their cell membranes burst is quick, easy and safe - no need to actually burn the plant.  In a few days the weeds disappear.

Poison Ivy is trickier.   You do not want to burn Poison Ivy since the compounds that cause skin irritation cause respiratory distress if aerosolized in a fire.    Although I really do not like to use herbicides of any kind, there is not much choice for clearing significant  stands of poison ivy.   Our tree specialist recommended that I use a Chapin backpack sprayer with a specialized nozzle  that enables precise application.  The poison ivy formula he recommended is 3 gallons of water, 7.8 ounces of RoundUp, and 4 tablespoons of Miracle Grow, applied in June when the leaves are fully grown but still tender.  The Miracle Grow allows the use of 25% less RoundUp, which is better for the environment.  Also, RoundUp is foliar, not soil- based, so there is less contamination.  I carefully sprayed all our poison ivy last night and we'll see what happens.

Now that I've mastered weeds and poison ivy, I can turn my attention to electric fencing technologies this weekend - a blog post for next week.
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