Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Weapon For Weed Control: Flame Thrower

I pulled into the vineyard's driveway and noticed one of the staff donning a protective face shield as he carefully sprayed around the bottom trunks of the vines. As I got closer I was surprised to see what seemed like fire spouting out the nozzle. In the tasting room I asked if a flame thrower was being used? They didn't know so pointed me to the vineyard manager who explained they were experimenting with new weed control techniques this year. Instead of using Roundup adjacent to the vines, they were trying propane gas. Are you planning to become organically certified? No, but as a sustainable vineyard we're trying to use less chemicals, he said. As he spoke the distinct essence of propane made it's appearance outside the tasting room. Don't strike a match, I joked. I wonder how that device would work pointed down gopher holes?

1 comment:

Graciano said...

Hello Craig,

Where I work, for the past four years we have been using only organic chemicals and three years ago we completely eliminated Roundup use from the vineyard in order to qualify for membership into the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). We had been using extensively the weedeater which was becoming an expensive operation.

In view of the vineyard being quite small and taking advantage of every square foot of land, it was not feasible for us to use other implements that cultivate the berms such as the French plow or the rotohoe since we are only on a 5 x 7 spacing. As a result Roundup was the most effective weed control medium we had until we suspended its use.

With the flamer, sometimes we have to use it wisely in view of it becoming slightly expensive after four or six tanks of propane and its use goes mostly to that berm area between one foot outside of the anchor wires and the first two feet inside of the end post. With that cleared area outside of the anchor wires, out tractor operator does not need to get too close to the anchors and prevent tearing them. In addition the string of the weed eater does not make any contact with the anchor and end posts making the string last longer.

We only burn with the flamer, just a 12 inch diameter around the trunk to save in propane and for the weed eater to trim only whatever green vegetation remains between two vines.

When Green Match came into the market, which is an alternative to Roundup, I believe is what the organic agriculture field had been waiting for years and I cannot overstress how pleased we are with its use for the first time. Naturally there are some weeds that are not affected by or minimally affected by Green Match, just like Roundup which is also not effective for some weeds.

As far as pets are concerned, this new herbicide according to the label is made from organic vegetative products.. You may wish to check on Marrone Bio Innovations and go to "certification" which will give you more detailed information. The vineyard where I work, we are next to a home with cats, goats and chickens, these latter which occasionally run into the vineyard with no detrimental effects. There we also have birds landing in the vineyard pecking at seeds and earthworms, and keep coming daily.

We take into consideration all factors which may impact our neighbors on each side of the vineyard as well as the environment. If you wish any further information, please feel free to send me a note. Thank you.