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Evaluation and Economics of a Rotating Cultivator in Bok Choy, Celery, Lettuce, and Radicchio

  • Steven A. Fennimore (a1), Richard F. Smith (a2), Laura Tourte (a3), Michelle LeStrange (a4) and John S. Rachuy (a1)...
Abstract

A commercial intrarow rotating cultivator was tested for weed removal and impact on hand-weeding times in bok choy, celery, lettuce, and radicchio. The rotating cultivator was tested as an automated crop thinner and weeder in direct-seeded bok choy and lettuce as an alternative to hand-thinning and -weeding. The rotating cultivator utilized machine-vision guidance to align a rotating disk with the crop plant to be saved and to remove weeds and undesired crop plants. The rotating cultivator was compared to a standard interrow cultivator, which could not remove weeds from the plant line. Main plots were cultivator type, rotating, or standard, and subplots were herbicides: pronamide for lettuce or prometryn for celery. Weed densities, hand-weeding times, crop stand, and yields were monitored. Economic analysis was performed on a subset of the data. The intrarow rotating cultivator was generally more effective than the standard interrow cultivator for reducing weed densities and hand-weeding times. However, the rotating cultivator reduced seeded lettuce stands by 22 to 28% when compared to hand-thinning and standard cultivation, resulting in lower yields and net returns. In transplanted celery, lettuce, and radicchio, the rotating cultivator removed more weeds than the standard cultivator, and reduced stands by just 6 to 9% when compared to the standard cultivator. In transplanted lettuce, the rotating cultivator was more precise and did less damage to the crop. Because transplanted crops were larger than the weeds, they were more easily differentiated using this technology. Net returns were therefore similar between the two cultivators. What is needed for celery and leafy vegetables is an effective intrarow weed removal system that reduces or eliminates the need for hand-weeding yet does not reduce yields. The rotating cultivator was developed for transplanted crops, where it performs adequately, but it cannot be recommended in the seeded crops evaluated.

Se evaluó el uso de un cultivador comercial rotativo intra-línea para la eliminación de malezas y su impacto en la deshierba manual en bok choy, apio, lechuga y radicchio. El cultivador rotativo fue evaluado para ralear el cultivo y para deshierbar automáticamente en bok choy y lechuga de siembra directa como alternativa al raleo y a la deshierba manual. El cultivador rotativo fue guiado con una máquina de visión para alinear un disco rotativo con la planta del cultivo que debía ser salvada y para remover las malezas y las plantas del cultivo no deseadas. El cultivador rotativo fue comparado con un cultivador inter-línea estándar, el cual no podía remover malezas de la línea de siembra. Las parcelas principales fueron el tipo de cultivador, rotativo o estándar, y las sub-parcelas fueron herbicidas: pronamide para la lechuga o prometryn para el apio. Se determinó las densidades de malezas, los tiempos de deshierba manual, y los rendimientos. Se realizó un análisis económico en un subgrupo de los datos. El cultivador rotativo intra-línea fue generalmente más efectivo que el cultivador inter-línea estándar para reducir las densidades de malezas y los tiempos de deshierba manual. Sin embargo, el cultivador rotativo redujo el número de plantas de lechuga establecidas en siembra directa en 22 a 28% en comparación con el raleo manual y el cultivador estándar, lo que resultó en menores rendimientos e ingresos netos. En apio, lechuga y radicchio de trasplante, el cultivador rotativo removió más malezas que el cultivador estándar, y redujo el número de plantas establecidas en solamente 6 a 9% cuando se comparó con el cultivador estándar. En la lechuga de trasplante el cultivador rotativo fue más preciso y causó menos daño al cultivo. Los cultivos trasplantados fueron más fácilmente diferenciados usando esta tecnología porque fueron más grandes que las malezas. Los ingresos netos fueron de esta forma, similares entre los cultivadores. Lo que se necesita para el apio, y los vegetales de hoja es un sistema efectivo para la remoción de malezas intra-línea que reduzca o elimine la necesidad de deshierba manual sin reducir los rendimientos. El cultivador rotativo fue desarrollado para cultivos de trasplante, en los cuales se desempeña adecuadamente, pero este no puede ser recomendado para cultivos de siembra directa.

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Corresponding author
Corresponding author's E-mail: safennimore@ucdavis.edu.
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Weed Technology
  • ISSN: 0890-037X
  • EISSN: 1550-2740
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