Flame weeding is exactly what it sounds like: the destruction of weeds in agricultural fields by burning. It has been rarely used since the introduction of herbicides, but many of today's farmers are concerned with overuse of chemicals, and organic farm production is booming. Farmers looking for a more economical and eco-friendly way to produce crops and increase yields are paying more attention to this method and the cleaner, cheaper LP gas it uses.
About Weed Flamers
Weed flamers come in different configurations and sizes for different uses, but they are all powered by clean and safe propane gas. Some smaller models used for spot flaming have a single flame, while tractor-mounted models have multiple flamers mounted on booms. The size of the propane tank depends on the application, with backpack mounted models using the smallest tanks. A pull-along model with a common 20-pound propane tank can be used to spot-flame weeds under benches in greenhouses without the danger of chemical drift causing crop damage.
Selective vs. Non-Selective Flaming
There are two types of flame weeding:
- Selective flaming, or spot flaming, is a method of weed control where single weeds or groups of weeds are targeted. This method is used on crops when plants are large enough to be easily distinguished from the weeds.
- Non-selective flaming is used to burn off weeds before planting, to burn off early weeds before crop seeds have germinated and to burn off weeds in hardier crops when the weeds and crops are the same height.
Benefits of Flame Weeding
In a study conducted by the University of Nebraska, flame weeding was shown to be extremely effective while saving money and being environmentally friendly. Use of a hooded propane system was more effective and more fuel efficient. The study showed that using this system, flame weeding
- kills up to 95 percent of weeds
- reduces labor costs
- does not affect the microorganisms or organic matter in the soil
- can be used even when soil is wet or weather is windy, which makes it better for scheduling weed control at the proper time
Flame Weeding Increases Profits
Fewer trips across the field means less soil compaction, which equates to less soil moisture loss and higher yields. It not only means lower fuel costs, but propane is insoluble in water and nontoxic to aquifers, soil or streams.
With all these benefits and chemical herbicides becoming more controversial, flame weeding may be the wave of the future. It is a cost-effective and viable alternative on both organic and conventional farming operations. If you are considering switching to flame weeding, contact your local agricultural LP gas supplier like Avery Oil And Propane to get an estimate and comparison to your current fuel costs.