A perfect introduction to mechanical weed control

On Thursday 14 July, specialist machinery dealers NP Seymour hosted a demonstration of Perfect van Wamel’s new Terra Ranger at J&N Moor near Faversham, Kent by kind permission of Richard Castle.

Richard and his team have used mechanical weeders in the organic orchard for over 10 years, so they know a good machine when they see one.

Unlike the other options they have used, the consensus was that the Terra Ranger was just as effective at removing unwanted vegetation on both sides of the alley and under the tree but can be operated at faster speeds (around 6-8km/h instead of 2-3km/h). It also requires significantly less skill and concentration from the operator, as it can just be driven in a straight line without the risk of hitting any trunks.

Those attending the demonstration at Moor’s orchard were lucky to be joined by René van Ravensteijn from Perfect van Wamel who worked on designing and creating this mechanical orchard weeder.

He explained that before developing the Terra Ranger, Perfect had benefited from seeing what was working well in the mechanical weeding sector and what growers found to be most useful.

For that reason, the Terra Ranger incorporates finger weeders, already proven mechanical weeding concepts that are popular with growers, with two mechanical-driven counter-cutting tillers. The finger weeders have flexible fingers that work closer into the tree row while gripping into the top layer of soil to remove weeds before the tiller, which can be operated at depths of up to 70mm, lightly lifts and moves the soil.

The machine can be front or rear mounted, and operators can adjust the working width from 2.5m to 3.8m. For those with uneven orchards, the angle of the tilling system can be adjusted up to 10º and the frame and implements also move independently to the 3-point hitch for excellent ground contour adaptation. Operators can also adjust the finger weeders, the wheel placement, and the distance between the machine and the tractor.

“We’ve been rather impressed with the results from the Terra Ranger demonstrations,” said Claire Seymour. “Growers who are new to mechanical weeding shouldn’t expect all the vegetation to magically vanish in the first pass. What is clear, however, is that Perfect’s combination of the finger weeders and counter-rotating tillers does a fantastic job of disturbing and uprooting the weeds, removing the need for growers to be reliant on chemical weed solutions.”

For more information on the Terra Ranger, as well as the other mechanical weeding solutions NP Seymour offers for orchards and vineyards, please phone the office on 01580 712200 or email sales@npseymour.co.uk.