Mulch applicator

Hello everyone,

The maples above are being grown in an enclosed hoophouse, therefore, preemergence herbicides are not labeled or legal. Sawdust provides an economical alternative for weed control.
My next Digger article will discuss several non-chemical weed control products. That issue will be out in March. After it's printed, I'll post the article on the internet.

Right now I would like to share with you a machine I saw that makes mulch applications easy and efficient. Labor for applying mulches has always been the limiting factor in their wide-spread acceptance.

Preemergence herbicides are cheap, effective, and efficient. However, they are not labeled for use in enclosed structures (greenhouses, hoophouses, etc.), they are injurious on some crops (hydrangea, for example), and some growers simply prefer not to use them.

Mulches that are effective for controlling weeds in container crops include sawdust, hazelnut shells, crumb rubber, Biotop, and others. These mulches, however, are not without some problems. See Table 1 for a list of the pros and cons of each mulch, along with their product cost (this table will also be in the Digger article, I'm giving you a sneak-peek).



The machine

A single person can swing the machine into place.
To the right is a machine I saw in British Columbia. The device is used to efficiently apply sawdust to container crops.

Sawdust is dumped into the blue hopper with a front-end loader. The machine swivels on the post (left side). A wagon is pulled in front of the hopper, then the hopper is swung around over top of the wagon. The hopper dispenses the mulch as the wagon moves slowly beneath it. One person can easily swing the machine around.

A motor is mounted to the left side of the hopper which turns a drum on the inside. This aids in dispersing the mulch. A latch on the bottom of the hopper can be used to regulate the rate of dispersal, and thus the amount of mulch applied. The speed at which the wagon is pulled beneath the hopper also regulates the amount of mulch applied.

I'm not sure if the equipment is manufactured by a specific company, or if it was fabricated by the nursery (if any of you have seen this before, email me and let me know).

Please email me if you have any ideas for non-chemical weed control alternatives.

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