Retractable Blade Cultivator: Weed 'Em and Reap Part 1

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Weed 'Em and Reap Part 1: Tools for Non-Chemical Weed Management in Vegetable Cropping Systems [DVD]. A. Stone. 2006. Oregon State University Dept. of Horticulture. Corvallis, Oregon. Available at: (verified 17 Dec 2008).


Rob Heater, Stahlbush Island Farms. Corvallis, OR.

Audio Text

This is what we call an in-row cultivator. It’s built on to a Buffalo cultivator, which is made in the Midwest, I think back in Nebraska. It’s a high-residue, no-till cultivator. We happen to have had a bunch of these that we were using in our crops anyway and decided to make an attachment in here for killing weeds in widely spaced crops, like winter squash and different pumpkins. We came up with this concept of having a blade that runs right down the row that’s killing the weeds that are in the row. We’ve got a pneumatic cylinder that retracts that blade right when it comes to a plant. We’ve added an air compressor on the front toolbar of the cultivator that’s driven hydraulically by the tractor. We’ve got a series of timers and air valves and 12-volt solenoids. Each person riding on the back has a button to push. Right when they hit the button, it will raise that blade momentarily as the plant goes under. If you weren’t to hit these buttons, this would work up the entire width of ground. Every single square inch would get tilled. By hitting these buttons, you ‘re raising the blade and skipping a small rectangle of dirt right where a plant is and that is the only portion of the field unstirred. It just makes a pass. You can take a very, very weedy pumpkin field and go through with this and it looks remarkably clean behind it. The only weeds left, like I said, are right underneath the plant.

There is not a drop of chemical used on any of the squash. It’s flaming, right before it emerges. We’re talking half a day before they come up, its flamed. This comes through, once it gets pretty weedy or once the squash are so big if you wait any longer they’re not going to go through the machine without getting cut up. Hoeing is the final, if needed. Some fields if they’re clean enough don’t even need hoed. In rowing is all we do.