Weed sweeping with a tractor

By Bill Kleiman

For years I have been using a small 30 hp tractor to cruise around grassland habitats looking for weed occurrences. The foot crews will be working with backpacks in certain areas and I will be off solo patrolling and controlling. With the ever increasing need for efficient stewardship I have ramped up this tractor setup. Now I tow the little tractor to a field entrance, unload, perhaps load up with just the right amount of herbicide using the tender truck’s tank of clean water, and some herbicide concentrates I keep in the bed. I don’t have to drive all the way back to headquarters to reload. I am self sufficient.

This trailering method with the water tender allows me to get to sites faster, to load the amount of herbicide mix I need, to reload a mix as needed, to go into lunch quickly, and get back out after lunch. It is more pleasant.

This is an old 30 hp Kubota two wheel drive which turns tighter than a UTV. It sits me higher up in the air to see the weeds below. I might not spray much herbicide with this hand nozzle but I can scout a lot of ground which saves our boots on the ground crew many steps. There is a “boomless” tip on the back of the tank which I don’t use much. Mostly, I am trying to see a lot of ground.

Recently I added a heavy duty tool clamp to hold our weed spade. This let’s me pull some sweet clovers rather than spray them. We also bolted down a coffee can which holds a quart sprayer of basal bark herbicide. This lets me treat the lone autumn olive I find. Basal bark application has a much smaller herbicide foot print than if I were to foliar spray a large invasive shrub.

We use this tender in fire season too.

About Grassland Restoration Network blog

Bill Kleiman publishes this blog. Bill's daytime job is manager of Nachusa Grasslands. We are looking for guest authors on various topics of grassland habitat restoration. Contact me with your ideas or drafts.
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5 Responses to Weed sweeping with a tractor

  1. Kirsten Boesen says:

    Thank you for this blog! This is very helpful for me as a younger professional steward of grasslands and savannas in western IL. There is a lot about herbicide application I could learn from you all! By the way, that spray bottle that lives in the tin can on the tractor looks anti-leak proof. We have been using cleaning bottles and tops, but they leak/drip on the hands quite a bit (and puncture easy). The bottle top looks more anti-leak, is there a good website to find those spray bottle tops? Thank you. Any other thoughts about applicators for cut stump/basal bark would be appreciated too!

  2. Paul Brewer says:

    A couple of very nice and well thought out rigs there Bill! I have been thinking about a sprayer setup like the 3-point tank you have for my own farm. I need to look at past blogs, but it looks like that might be a commercially available 3-point tank/pump setup. THANKS! Great post.

  3. Eric Smith says:

    A tractor seat is a great vantage point. No concerns for breeding birds, ornate box turtles, etc?

    • I have various concerns for wildlife. With ornate box turtles, we generally only go in with a tractor to spray a known weed patch. The ornate box turtles are home-bodies and we know where their homes are, so we mostly stay out. I want to limit bird nests and other wildlife from being squished by a tractor doing weed sweeps so we do the sweeps as wide apart in space and time as feasible. We want to find and treat invasive weeds. We have limited resources. It is a balancing act. The tractor’s higher view means it can make wider tracks through the prairie than a UTV. Today, we did not mow some fire breaks in ornate box turtle territory because it is still warm outside. We will wait for the cold weather to come.

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