Weed management is crucial on vegetable farms of all scales but may be particularly challenging for small-scale farms as hand weeding is time consuming while tractor cultivation may not fit with smaller acreages. So, with his Northeast SARE Partnership grant, Jan “Lu” Yoder of Woodmetalcanvas in Westport, MA collaborated with local farmers to build, test and refine a light electric walking tractor prototype for cultivating vegetable beds in both field and greenhouse settings.
The “Weed Weasel” aimed to fill a niche between hand-pushed wheel hoes and small cultivating tractors. Lu built three prototypes. Five farmer collaborators tested them during the 2018 growing season and provided Lu with feedback to improve the design. Lu then developed step-by-step build instructions—posted on Farmhack–and produced a video to introduce farmers to the design. He estimated that each unit cost about $1400 and 50 hours to build.
One farmer partner said, “It has the power to do a cultivating tractor’s job, as proven by 1-1/2 acres of brassicas in Waltham in July.” Lu concluded that the Weed Weasel has the potential to fit well into small-scale vegetable farming operations as a light, electric-powered, efficient and locally produced tool.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant: