The potato vine crusher: a new tool for harvest weed seed control


MacDonald A.N. & McKenzie-Gopsill A. The potato vine crusher: a new tool for harvest weed seed control. Poster session presented at: 2023 Canadian Weed Science Society Annual General Meeting; Nov 20-23 2023; Winnipeg, MB.


Effective weed seedbank management is essential for long-term sustainable weed control. Advances in weed control strategies, including Harvest Weed Seed Control (HWSC), have been effective at reducing weed seedbank contributions. HWSC targets weed seeds collected during harvest, which are subsequently dispersed with other plant residue. Tactics for HWSC include direct collection and removal of weed seeds from the field, as well as in-field devitalization using roller-mill systems or residue burning. These methods are effective in managing problematic weeds, including aggressive herbicide-resistant species. However, HWSC strategies has been limited to combine-harvested crops, primarily cereals. This limitation stems from machinery requirements and the behaviour of weed species that retain their seeds until harvest. Other crops, such as potatoes, face similar weed challenges that cause significant yield losses. Nonetheless, HWSC has not been explored in these crops due to specialized harvesting equipment and cropping systems. This project focuses on evaluating the potential of the Potato Vine Crusher (PVC), a roller-mill system originally designed for insect control, as an HWSC tool in Canadian potato production. Stationary testing was conducted to evaluate the impact of spring tension and roller speeds on controlling lambsquarters, the most problematic weed species in Canadian potato farming. Roller speed had minimal influence on lambsquarter control, while increased spring tension, under controlled conditions, led to reduced control due to hypocotyl and radical elongation observed from seed fragments. However, when tested in soil conditions, there was a notable reduction in emergence by 53% when using maximum spring tension. Encouragingly, high levels of control (65 - 94%) was observed for all other weed species under controlled conditions. During the simulated harvest scenario, the influence of seed size became apparent. Large weed seeds had significantly reduced emergence when processed with the PVC, while smaller seeds were largely unaffected. This study not only demonstrates the potential of the PVC as a valuable HWSC tool for Canadian potato production systems but would also mark the first use of HWSC for a horticultural crop.

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