Manual Weed Control
Manual methods of weed control are still widely used in organic systems. Hand weeding is most useful on annual weeds and some perennial weeds. There are times when hand roguing individual plants or patches of plants is the most effective way of preventing them spreading and multiplying. It is widely used for dealing with the removal of difficult-to-control species such as docks, thistles and ragwort.
Manual methods of weed control are also widely used in intensive horticultural crops where it is important to perform a good first weed to prevent weed competition. Hand weeding can often follow after a mechanical inter-row weeding operation in order to thoroughly remove weeds in the crop row. It is a practical method of removing weeds within rows and hills where a cultivating implement cannot be used. It obviously requires more labour than other direct weed control methods and therefore costs are likely to be higher so it is only employed by growers with high value crops like vegetables.
It is generally more efficient for groups or gangs of workers to hoe or hand weed crops as a team, whether directly pulling the weeds or using some type of hoe. Hand rogueing or pulling is a widely used technique for patches of weeds or removing. There are many modern hoe designs that are more comfortable to use than traditional designs and these should be investigated where large areas are being covered. Some designs include the stirrup hoe, the diamond hoe and the collinear hoe as well as wheeled push hoes. Other tools have been designed to tackle specific weeds such as docks, thistles or ragwort.
In more mechanised systems teams of workers lie on a flat bed weeder pulled by a tractor or on other specially designed machines. The speed of the machines can be adjusted to accomodate the level of weeds in the crop.
- A tool guide to cultivating and weeding
- The Lazy Dog Tool Co specialises in making tools to remove docks, thistles and ragwort. Also in-depth case studies of weeding problems and how they were resolved
- Manual and mechanical weed control methods (a pdf file)