REGINA — Bourgault Tillage Tools is selling what is essentially one of the world’s largest mowers, clipping weeds that stand above the crop canopy.
The BTT Weed Clipper is a 50-foot wide power take-off driven solution for both organic growers struggling with tall, fast maturing weeds and conventional growers struggling with herbicide resistant weeds that tower above the crop.
“We developed the thing to control and manage weeds without chemicals,” said Joseph Bourgault of Bourgault Tillage Tools at Canada’s Farm Progress Show, held earlier this summer in Regina.
“It cuts and mulches just like a lawn mower would. It cuts and mulches the weeds that grow above the crop — from heights of four inches to 46 inches above.
“We’ve used it on flax; lentils is a popular crop. Those are two of the most popular least competitive crops, but you could use the machine in any crop with weeds growing above it.”
For clipping to be effective, the weeds must be taller than the crop and produce most of its seeds above the crop canopy.
There is a narrow window for weed clipping to be effective in cereals. Growers can clip weeds when they’re bolting and entering the reproductive stage while the crop is still in the vegetative stage.
There is a longer clipping window for shorter crops.
The clipper helps prevent wild mustard, wild oat and thistles before they are able to drop seeds, especially in short crops such as flax, chickpeas, field peas and lentils.
“At five m.p.h., you can clip at least 25 acres per hour up to 30 acres per hour, and that’s in medium to heavy weed clipping,” Bourgault said.
“Lighter weed clipping, you could be going faster.”
In two minutes the clipper folds up into transport position, which is 14 feet tall and 22 feet, six inches wide.
The BTT Weed Clipper has a small retractable crane near the hitch that holds up the p.t.o. and makes it easier for operators to connect it to the tractor.
“It’s mechanically driven,” Bourgault said.
“From each section gearbox it’s then belt driven. Every blade is belt driven with common belts, inexpensive belts that farmers are accustomed to.”
The cutter blades overlap each other by three inches to prevent weeds from getting through.
The service schedule requires approximately an hour of greasing every 100 hours of operation, including to the drive spindles and the axles.
Operators use a crop height indicator at the front of the machine to help set the cutting height
“You set this (physical crop height indicator) so it’s an inch below the blades, and then you set it to your crop height,” he said.
“If you keep this set to your crop height, then you will never cut into your crop.”
There is an optional camera system that monitors the crop height indicator so operators don’t have to constantly look behind to ensure they’re at optimal cutting height.
The clipper comes with crop dividers to limit crop trampling.
“We have a 200 horse, 160 p.t.o. tractor and we wouldn’t recommend any smaller than that because the machine is about 18,000 pounds,” Bourgault said.
“When you’re pulling around in the field and you have any wet conditions and it starts to sink a little bit, you need that kind of horsepower to prevent getting stuck.”
The BTT Weed Clipper is now on the market, but availability is limited.