Contribute funds to get this important, open-source design collaboration off the ground!
The Patriot Weeder Project aims to meet the demand from small organic farms for affordable, precise, and reliable weeding equipment. Funds from this campaign will be used to build and test prototypes, and produce open source plans for the Patriot Weeder: An effective, versatile, and cheap weeding system adaptable to a wide range of farm sizes, soil types, and crops. Most current farming technology is geared toward industrial scale production, leaving small-scale farms to equip their operations with a mix of obsolete, repurposed and invented tools. The ultimate goal is to make open source plans for the Patriot Weeder freely available for farmers and local fabricators on Farmhack.org, a hub for open source solutions to support small farmers and the local food movement. At Farmhack.org you can already find plans for our bicycle-powered thresher
, fanning mill
, and Dehuller/Flour Mill
(made possible by a SARE Grant) .
We embark on the Patriot Weeder Project in the spirit of Farmhack, namely in an attempt to simultaneously support both our emerging local farming sector and a revitalized local manufacturing movement. We can do this by getting the right tools into the hands of farmers at the right price, while at the same time developing a viable, decentralized, open-source, small scale model of local artisanship.
When my brother, an organic farmer, first asked me to build a weeding tool, I imagined he meant improving on the many available designs already in production. I soon learned there are few to no available designs in the US. There are old machines, like the Allis Chalmers G (ended in 1955) and the Farmall (built until 1980), but there are fewer of these antiques each year. There are companies making either replica parts for the old machines or specialized weeding machines for certain applications (eg, tine weeders). But it is nigh on impossible to find a US-made mechanical weeding system that is adaptable to many crops, farms of different sizes, and different soil conditions. In Europe such systems exist. However, they are expensive ($4K-50K) and they use proprietary shapes and sizes that make tool changing, universality, maintenance, and technical support a hassle.
Why was the mechanical weeder discontinued in the US?
Herbicides replaced machines for weeding. Now public awareness of the problems with herbicides creates an opportunity for small farms to perfect mechanical cultivation (weeding) and lead the way back to a regional food system based on locally produced food and tools, and ecologically sound methods.
What features will a weeder for everyone have?
First, the design and plans will be open source so everyone can use and improve the plans. Second, the design will be based on regular steel stock sizes, so any shop or farm can build the weeder with simple metal fabrication tools. Third, the design will scale up for use with large tractors and scale down for use with small tractors, bike powered tractors, and pushed wheel hoes. Additionally, the tool bar for the weeder will have an option for mounting on the three point hitch of a tractor and being pulled behind, allowing some farms to use one tractor for both plowing and cultivation.
The Patriot Weeder Project can do all this, but can’t do it unless you help. If we nurture these seedlings of sustainable agriculture, they will grow into a healthy network from which we’ll harvest the fruits of local food security, nutrition, and community empowerment. Please donate if you can, or share with your friends!
Also seeking farmer input! Contact Lu through the GoFundMe page.
Three Parts to the Project:
Part 1: A parallelogram row unit (pictured above) which clips on to a horizontal tool bar and carries a gauge wheel and a shank-mounted cultivating shoe or other type of weeder. The parallelogram row unit can be built light for use on a manually pushed cart or culticyle, or it can be built heavy for a large tractor. Many row units can ride on a single tool bar for cultivating more rows at once. Everything is adjustable with a single bolt sliding arrangement, so the row units can be tuned for crop height, cultivation depth, row spacing, etc.
Part 2: Homemade cultivating shoes and spring shanks. So that local shops can make cultivating tools to farmer’s specifications.
Part 3: The tool bar on to which the parallelogram row units mount can be belly mounted (such as a G, Cub, 140), but many farms do not have a tractor with a belly mounted tool bar. In order to make the parallel row units suitable for pulling behind a regular tractor, there needs to be a three point hitch tool bar that steers from behind the tractor. This requires a second person seated behind the cultivator in a “sulky” seat. For many small farms, the cost of a second person is worth it to save the hassle of owning a second tractor (especially an antique).
How will the money be spent?
For the first phase of this project, $1000 dollars will be devoted to materials: $300 for the parallelogram row units, $100 for the cultivating shoes and shanks, and $600 for the three point hitch steering tool bar. Each of these three tasks will also get $1000 of labor (One week of shop time). The goal of this half of the first phase is to get several prototypes in to the fields of two or three different farms by the start of the 2017 weed season. The remaining funds will go toward field testing (with video camera) ($2000), repairs and changes ($1000 shop time), and materials for repairs and changes ($500)
In Fall of 2017 I plan to seek additional funding to complete the documentation of the project and produce open source plans and videos to upload to Farmhack.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this project!
Please help spread the word through friends and networks.