A New Look at Natural Weed Control


| 1/27/2016 7:00:00 AM


Nothing is more frustrating than spending hours in the sun doing back-breaking work on your garden only to find it overrun with weeds. This situation has led even the most steadfast organic gardeners to thinking about reaching for a bottle of pesticide.

Luckily for farmers who are near their breaking point, a new method of weed removal is gaining traction with organic farmers—weed blasters. Forget the old methods. No more pulling by hand or hoeing until you ache. This method can save time and effort on your part, and may even make your soil healthier.

natural weed control
Photo by Fotolia.

What Is Weed Blasting?

Weed blasting is a method currently being tested by U.S. Department of Agriculture agronomist Frank Forcella. Weed blasting is done by using an air compressor to spray weeds with gritty material such as corncob grit, walnut shells, corn gluten meal or soybean meal. While the grit shreds weeds, stronger crops like corn, soybeans and tomatoes are left unharmed. Using a portable air compressor mounted to a tractor, you blast at either side of the row of crops.

Success Rate

In an initial test with tomatoes, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Department of Crop Sciences found a 75 percent reduction of weeds with one application. Forcella said season-long weed control has a success rate of 80-90 percent. While those numbers clearly aren’t perfect, weed blasting goes a long way toward reducing the overall number of weeds in the garden, and can help keep the number of weeds down so they can be easily managed with more conventional methods.



Other Benefits

Aside from just destroying weeds, you can help prevent more weeds and even fertilize the soil as you work. Using corn gluten meal as your grit can work to keep reducing weed population even after you’ve finished blasting, and it can double as a fertilizer. Soil too acidic? You can use lime as your blaster and help your soil at the same time.



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