An Undergraduate Student Project to Improve Mechanical Control of Perennial Nutsedges with a Peanut Digger in Organic Crop Production

Johnson, W. Carroll; Way, Thomas R.; Beale, David G.
October 2015
Weed Technology;Oct2015, Vol. 29 Issue 4, p861
Academic Journal
Yellow and purple nutsedge are common in the southeastern United States, and both perennial species are difficult to control in organic crop-production systems. Tubers are generally confined to the upper portions of the soil profile and are vulnerable to desiccation when brought to the soil surface. A peanut digger is a common implement found in the coastal plain region of the southeastern United States and has shown promise controlling perennial nutsedges in fallow sites. The peanut digger undercuts perennial nutsedges, deposits weeds on the soil surface, and exposes weeds to desiccation. However, rainfall after tillage with the peanut digger allows displaced nutsedges to survive. As part of a senior-level class project, undergraduate mechanical engineering students from Auburn University designed and constructed a cart attached to a peanut digger that collected nutsedges. Key features included a custom hitch that allowed the correct plane of movement and a hydraulic conveyor system that discarded the perennial nutsedges off-site, away from the field. The prototype was tested in a fallow location in the summer of 2014 with a yellow nutsedge infestation averaging 148 plants m−2. One week after the initial field test, tillage using the peanut digger with specialized cart reduced yellow nutsedge densities in the tilled area by > 99%. Nomenclature: Purple nutsedge, Cyperus rotundus L.; yellow nutsedge, Cyperus esculentus L.; peanut, Arachis hypogaea L. Cyperus esculentus y Cyperus rotundus son comunes en el sureste de los Estados Unidos, y ambas especies perennes son difíciles de controlar en sistemas de producción de maní orgánico. Sus tubérculos están generalmente confinados a las porciones superiores del perfil del suelo y son vulnerables a la desecación cuando son llevados a la superficie del suelo. El desenterrador de maní es un implemento que es común en la región de las planicies costeras del sureste de los Estados Unidos y que ha mostrado potencial para el control de Cyperus spp. perennes en sitios en barbecho. El desenterrador de maní corta el tejido subterráneo de Cyperus spp. perennes, deposita las malezas sobre la superficie del suelo, y las expone a la desecación. Sin embargo, lluvia después de la labranza con el desenterrador de maní permite la supervivencia de los Cyperus spp. perennes desplazados. Como parte de un proyecto de clase de estudiantes en su último año de pregrado, estudiantes de ingeniería mecánica de la Universidad Auburn diseñaron y construyeron una carreta que se conectó al desenterrador de maní para colectar los Cyperus spp. perennes. Algunas características clave incluyeron un enganche especial que permitió el plano correcto del movimiento y un sistema hidráulico con una banda sin fin para desechar los Cyperus spp. perennes en sitios alejados del campo agrícola. El prototipo fue evaluado en una localidad en barbecho en el verano de 2014 con una infestación de C. esculentus que promedió 148 plantas m−2. Una semana después de la prueba de campo inicial, la labranza usando el desenterrador de maní con la carreta especializada redujo las densidades de C. esculentus >99% en el área labrada.


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