Eastern Shore farmer tries chaff lining to defeat weeds

December 16, 2023
Jarrett Sturgis (right) and Dr. Singh’s (left) second draft of the chaff lining chute. (Photo credit: Claudio Rubione, GROW)

By Claudio Rubione & Emily Unglesbee, GROW & Dr. Vijay Singh, ESAREC Weed Scientist

Third time is usually the charm, but it only took two tries for farmer Jarrett Sturgis to declare chaff lining a likely success on his operation near Eastville, Virginia, on the Eastern Shore. Chaff lining is the process of funneling chaff, where most weed seeds reside, into a narrow line behind the combine, where they are concentrated, easier to manage and less likely to thrive the following year.

Chaff lining is among the simplest forms of harvest weed seed control, as Sturgis demonstrated by assembling a home-made chaff lining chute, with help from Virginia Tech Weed Scientist Dr. Vijay Singh and his research team. The first prototype, made from scrap metal from Sturgis’ farm, left much to be desired, as gaps in the construction allowed straw to mix with the chaff and shoot out the sides, producing more of a wide windrow than a narrow chaff line. But after mulling his design last winter, Sturgis and Dr. Singh added some flexible plastic shields and tried again. The result? A clean, two-foot wide chaff line that operated smoothly, with no effect on combine performance.

Sturgis ran the system successfully in soybeans and is planning to use it in wheat, where he hopes it will help manage his annual ryegrass problem.

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