Electric weeding performs as well as glyphosate beneath the vines

Thursday December 17 2020 by Vitisphere

 The trials did not cause any burns or damage to the grapes. The trials did not cause any burns or damage to the grapes.

Electric weeding has proven its efficacy in vineyards belonging to the French Vine & Wine Institute (IFV) in Lisle-sur-Tarn. Three times, at the end of March, May and June 2020, technicians hitched the first version of the XPower XPS developed by Zasso and marketed by the CNH Industrial Group to a New Holland T4 tractor. They drove over part of two of the institute’s clay and silt vineyards at 2.5 and 3.5 km/h. The rest of the ridge was also weeded either chemically, using two sprays of 1.8 litres per hectare of Tartan XL at concentrations of 360 g/l of glyphosate, or mechanically by five passes of a Clemens Radius SL blade inter-vine hoe.

At 3.5 km/h, the XPS controlled an average 70% of the weeds, though it did not have the same efficacy on all species. It eliminated geranium, forget-me-nots and speedwell perfectly. It was also useful against grasses, bedstraw, ragwort and plantain. Oak seedlings, however, were resistant to it.

The issue is about conductivity – the more woody the plant is, the better it resists”, explains Christophe Gaviglio, who led the trials. The shape of the plant also plays a part. “Electric weeding had little impact on verbena and fireweed, which have a low stem to leaf ratio”, he adds.

In the light of these results, IFV recommends use of electric weeding early in the season, starting in March at the latest, as it is not sufficient for clearing vine rows when they are covered with growth.

Earthworm populations also coped well with the electric current. IFV counted them on 23 October. After three applications of the XPS, technicians counted 250 individuals per square metre. They found 212 after weeding with glyphosate and only 150 when the inter-vine hoe had been used.

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