Weed control by the Removal of Individual Plants-RIP
Philip Trevelyan and Dr. John Zarb
Article taken from Conservation and Land Management - Volume 2, Number 4 - Winter 2004

Return to Publications Page | Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 |

tmp50-1.jpg
Weed
control
by the
Removal of
Individual
Plants-RIP

John Zarb and Philip
Trevelyan describe a new
approach to weed control
using radical,
ergonomically designed
hand tools for the
selective and complete
removal of individual
plants.

Weeds have vital
ecological and
aesthetic benefits as
habitat, food, seed, green
manures, forage and soil cover,
and as sources of genetic
diversity and biodiversity.
However, many, such as
common ragwort, spear thistle,
creeping thistle, docks and
invasive scrub plants, can be
problematic. Hand-digging or
pulling are sometimes the only
options for control. This kind of
manual labour is often
considered time-consuming and
costly, but the author's experience
indicates the contrary.

An organic farmer's
approach to weed
control

Philip Trevelyan produces
organic cereals and sheep on his
own land, and grazes organic
sheep on common land at
Spaunton, North Yorkshire.
Faced with the problem of
ragwort and thistle control on
large areas also grazed by
neighbouring farmers, he was
compelled to use chemical-free
methods so as not to

compromise his organic status.
Several years of trials led to the
development of a range of
robust, ergonomically designed
hand tools built on the farm
under the name of The Lazy
Dog Tool Co. These tools
exemplify the application of
appropriate technology. They
are designed to remove thistles,
dock, ragwort, nettles and young
scrub without the need for
repeated bending, heavy lifting
or herbicides. The weeding
technique has become known as
'removal of individual plants'
(RIP).

Three main Lazy Dog (LD)
tools are used on the farm:

the LD fork for the removal of
tap roots, ragwort and nettles;

the LD chisel hoe for
removing creeping thistle by
cutting just below the point of
growth; and

the LD weed hook for cutting
and retrieving weeds and debris
beneath fences and hedges.

Advantages of RIP
hand-weeding

There are many advantages to
this approach to weeding,

including:
weeds can be tackled at any
convenient time in one pass;

90% of weeding can be done
very early in the season, when
the ground is moist and when
there is often labour available
(creeping thistle is an exception
as at some latitudes it only
becomes visible in March or
April);

it can be selective in terms of
the species and numbers of
plants removed;

it is environmentally sound;
material can be collected for
composting;

ergonomic efficiency enables
a worker to operate without
repeated bending or undue
fatigue;

complete removal of the plant
prevents re-growth in
subsequent years.

Integrated weed
management

An integrated approach to weed
control is essential. Land
managers must consider:

efficient grazing
management, to optimise
pasture use;

Above Removing spear thistle with a
Lazy Dog fork. Peter Roworth

Definition
A weed is a plant that seriously
interferes with the current use of any
land where it grows or to which it might
spread.