Evaluation of Alternative Cultivators for Vegetable Production

The brush hoe cultivator (Bartchi Fobro Co., Switzerland) was evaluated for weed control cool-season vegetables in the Salinas Valley. The brush hoe was compared with conventional vegetable cultivators in seven on-farm trials. The brush hoe cultivated closer to the seed row than the conventional cultivators used by the growers. It left uncultivated strips 2 7/8 inch wide while conventional cultivators generally left uncultivated strips four inches wide. The brush hoe provided comparable or improved weed control over conventional cultivation. Under high weed densities, the brush hoe also reduced weeding/thinning time by over four hours per acre. At lower weed densities (i.e. 1.5 - 2.0 weeds per foot of row) the brush hoe may provide improved weed control but this may not always translate to a reduction in hoeing time. Conventional cultivators used in these studies traveled at speeds of 4-5 mph and the brush hoe in these trials traveled at 2.5-3 mph. The brush hoe also required an additional person to steer the implement in order cultivate close to the seedline. As a result the brush hoe may not offer economic advantages to large-scale vegetable operations, but may have a niche in operations with limited access to labor and/or in situations with high weed densities.


Evaluate weed control, efficiency, speed and economics of the brush hoe in comparison with growers standard cultivation equipment on cool season vegetables in the Salinas Valley.