State-of-the-art weed seed technology being tested in Northampton County

November 16, 2020
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According to an article in the Delmarva Farmer news publication, an Eastern Shore farming operation is testing state of the art weed seed elimination technology in Northampton County.

Bill Shockley and his son Thom are cooperating with Virginia Cooperative Extension and researchers from Virginia Tech  to add  a Redekop seed control unit  to their combine which aims to help destroy weed seed while crops are being harvested.

As harvested soybeans are separated from the plant material, weed seed and chaff is directed to the Redekop Seed Control Unit’s hammer mills that crushes the seeds.

This is the first year of a 3-5 year study. Researchers will measure the survivability of weed seed that goes through the mill. They will also be collecting data during soybean, wheat and barley harvest and see how the machine performs in corn as well. Studies show a 90 percent or better kill rate on weeds. Some manufacturers say 99 percent.

This technology has shown great success in Australia under the manufactures Harrington Seed Destructor and Seed Terminator.  Redekop, a Canadian manufacturer, has become the first manufacturer to bring this technology to North America. 

Price on the equipment ranges from $60,000 to $80,000, depending on the manufacturer.

“Over the past five years we’ve had way more weed resistance,” said Ursula Deitch, Northampton County ag and natural resources agent, who connected Dr. Michael Flessner, a weed science specialist, with the Shockleys on the project. “It’s become a huge issue.” Deitch said even farmers who have been more diligent about weed control are seeing resistance pop up in their fields.

“I have a lot of growers who are very interested in the outcome of this to see if it will work for them,” Deitch said.

Deitch and Flessner said the Shockleys emerged as ideal cooperators since they weren’t trading in their combines every year so the mill could stay on the same machine and they had the right make and series combine that matched up to the Redekop mill’s specifications.

To the researcher’s knowledge, it’s the only seed mill in use on a commercial farm on the East Coast.

“We’re excited to have this here on the Eastern Shore,” Deitch said. “We are the No. 1 and No. 2 counties in corn, wheat and soybeans in the state. To have cooperators like Bill and Thom is really great.”

Bill Shockley said he was interested in using the seed mill to see if it can reduce the amount and cost of herbicide used annually.

Pep Up

He said in the last five years, he estimates a 20 percent increase in herbicide cost because of resistance.

“With the price of crops now, you’ve got to look at alternatives,” Shockley said. “When (Ursula) called me, I said, ‘Let’s hook it up.’”

Flessner said adding a seed mill won’t likely replace a farmer’s herbicide program completely, but could reduce how much is applied in season.

“It kind of has to be an integrated approach,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to eliminate herbicide for the mills.”

And as the seed mill on the Shockley’s combine operates, a lot of people, Bill Shockley among them, will be watching and waiting.

“I’m real anxious to see what happens here,” Shockley said. “It’s something different. It’s a different tool.”

The full story can be read at AmericanFarmPublications.com.

 

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