A new weapon in the fight against weeds and volunteers in field-scale grass, vegetable and arable crops has been introduced by leading ATV accessory manufacturer Logic. David Williams reports.
Logic is well known for its range of ATV accessories but the latest addition is a tractor-mounted 6m weed wiper, capable of large-scale weed control, and just as well suited to arable crops as grassland. Based on its Contact 2000 range of rotating brush-type weed wipers, first introduced in 2000 as a trailed machine available in working widths up to 3.2m and designed to be pulled behind ATVs, the new Contact 2000 CTM600 is a 3-section 6m version, which can be supplied in fully-mounted arable mode or grassland mode with wheels for accurate height control on undulating ground.
“The Contact 2000 series of weed wipers is unique,” explained Logic product specialist Sam Griffin. “Where traditional belt or carpet-type weed wipers had a reputation for dripping and incomplete coverage, the Contact 2000 uses a counter-rotating brush, armed with a mix of nylon and organic fibre bristles. The nylon scrapes wax from the leaf and the fibre bristles store and apply the chemical and, because the fibres have considerable capacity before they become saturated and, therefore, wet enough to drip, the operator has full application control and can protect the valuable crop below.”
A conventional nylon spray line above the brush applies chemical through Hypro Easyfit 3 jet bodies fitted with F110-01 fan-jet nozzles. The timing of spray pulses is controlled from the cab and, as the bristles become moist, subtle colour changes allow the operator to determine if the brush is too wet or dry, and to increase or decrease the flow through the electronic controller accordingly.
No drift risk
The spray bar and brush are mounted under a steel hood so there is no risk of drift. This means as long as target weeds are dry, successful application can be carried out even on windy days, which increases opportunities for weed control considerably.
The 6m weedwiper has three sections, the centre 1.5m and two outer sections each of 2.5m and overlap ensures even coverage during turns. The standard grassland model is designed to float on its own wheels but the arable model is fully mounted, as the extra wheelings would be an issue. Hydraulic motors drive the three brush units and an electric pump provides the chemical feed allowing ease of control.
Two double-acting hydraulic spools are the minimum hydraulic requirement; one to drive the brush motors, and the other, through an electro-hydraulic valve, to provide break-back protection, folding for transport, lowering of the brush sections and height control. The chemical supply pump is powered from the tractor’s 12-volt supply, either through a Logic adapter loom or from the tractor’s accessory feed. Chemical is carried in a 270-litre on-board tank.
The three brush sections are independently mounted, allowing freedom of movement and accurate ground following – essential to prevent the bristles coming into contact with the crop. Height adjustment is 50-400mm above the ground.
The smaller 2.5m trailed ATV models have proved extremely popular with livestock farmers for removing problem weeds from general grassland areas and SSSI ground, and with local authorities and environmental organisations operating in sensitive areas such as along river banks. However, the maximum trailed 2.5m working width with wheels has been of limited use to large farming businesses or contractors compared with the new versions available.
“We are aware that the new technology will be just as useful to professional grassland farmers, for control of weeds in silage crops, as to arable farmers for taking out volunteers and weeds in sugar beet, and vegetables,” said Sam. “Trials were carried out last season and early this year in a range of crops including oilseed rape where charlock, which is normally killed off by hard winter frosts, was thriving following the mild winter. We have also been working with selective herbicides to remove creeping thistle from grass. Operating low maximises brush contact with the thistle but the selective herbicide protects the grass if contact occurs,” he added.
The new CTM600 Contact 2000 was launched to UK dealers in late March at a demonstration event in Gloucestershire, to which some key customers were also invited.
John Dalton is a main Honda ATV dealer based at Talsarn near Lampeter, and he looks after customers across much of Wales. With most of his customers heavily involved in livestock farming, he has had considerable experience of the smaller Contact weedwipers since they entered production and many are in use, primarily for weed control in grass.
“Thistles, docks and rushes are the biggest weed problems for many farmers and weed wipers are a logical method of control. However, access between fields due to narrow lanes and gateways, has meant that even the current Logic 2.5m Contact 2000 is often too wide, but the new tractor-mounted versions fold up narrower and will be ideal,” he said. “We come across all brands of wiper as we often take in other makes as part-exchange against new Logic machines and in our experience you often find old weed wipers lying around in the hedges as users have given up on them, but we have never seen a Contact 2000 machine discarded and there is a strong second-hand market. They are very effective, simple, have few moving parts and the brushes last well and the new CTM600 machines have all the same benefits.
“Weather windows for conventional weed control in our region tend to be rare as, in periods of fine weather, it is only early and late in the day when the wind drops, but this tends to be the times people are busy with livestock. The Contact 2000 wiper can be used almost regardless of wind, as long as the leaves are dry, so provides opportunities to work when other methods of weed control wouldn’t be appropriate. The new tractor mounted models require a little more investment but will offer low lifetime ownership costs and, with their high rate of work and practicality, provide a perfect opportunity to do more with less. Margins are under pressure; we all need to be more efficient and I believe these will prove popular with larger farms and contractors for the valuable time and chemical savings they offer,” he explained.
Also at the launch event was Sam Plowright from near Louth, Lincs. Trading as The Tractor Shop he is a Honda and Kawasaki ATV main dealer and has the Zetor tractor franchise for most of Lincolnshire, and his interest in the new weedwipers is mainly for the benefits they offer his arable and vegetable growing customers.
“Most farms around us are arable, including cereals, root crops and vegetables,” he said. “We are very excited by the new tractor-mounted Contact which will suit local farms. Main applications include weed and volunteer control in sugar beet, but there are also many vegetable and carrot producers who will appreciate it for the selective weed control it provides. Larger arable farms will easily justify the cost, and we believe contractors will be keen to add it to their range of services too. The design is simple with few moving parts, it is easy to use and should be very reliable. For transport the folding arrangement is compact and neat. We have sold Logic products for almost 10 years and the product range is well made and practical. There is enormous potential for the CTM600 in our trading area and we look forward to demonstrating it to potential users.”
The new Contact CTM600W grassland model with wheels is priced at £14,495 and the fully mounted arable model CTM600 costs £12,995. Logic can also supply a bout marker for £595 more, likely to be a popular addition for machines used on grassland.
“A pre-production machine was displayed at the Midland Machinery Show and created considerable interest from potential users,” said Sam Griffin. “The brushes and their application action are well proven, so the wider model is a logical development for us. We will be busy demonstrating the two versions in the coming months, and believe a large number of sales will be to contractors who have already identified the machine as a useful addition to their fleets, and will offer the weed wiping service in their areas.”
Orders can be placed through Logic main dealers and deliveries are due to commence in late April.