was a visit to encourage a Northumnberland & Durham
Machinery Ring workforce, who were removing dock plants
from wheat. Docks were spreading from unmanaged tree plantations
& hedgerows, and the roots had been chopped up by
cultivations (rotovated). They grew from varying depths,
and were difficult to locate.
task was thankless, and not to be recommended. See WARNING
WARNING: Hand-pulling is a vital aspect of weed control,
but the job of pulling hundreds of docks growing from
rotovated or repeat-rotary-harrowed root sections, in
an arable crop, is not to be recommended.
forced (for any reason) to plough grasses before pulling
the docks, something must be done to remove existing
plants & broken root sections before sowing.
dragging of the land with 5-framed chisel harrows, mounted
on the three-point linkage, is a good way. With these
harrows (lifted on chains & latterly made by Parmiter),
the chisel points are spaded slightly and curved forward,
which encourages root sections to the surface. Also
used for dragging wicks & couch grasses into piles
for burning, these harrows will also pull the majority
of your dock roots into rows.
ploughing, most soils will first require the use of
heavier drag-harrows, to break the furrows down.
using the chisel harrows, they can be be usefully weighted
down (so fix a weight container to each frame, or use
a croncrete block). Pull the roots into rows.
the roots towards the centre of the worst infestations
(don’t contaminate clean areas). Separate these roots
from soil & load them into a tractor bucket or trailer
with hand gripes (or possibly try an adapted potato
harvester (with seed belts).
a fallow is required, the root sections can be allowed
to leaf-up (by May), when they are much more easily
caught by the chisel harrow tines.
collection, the roots can be incorporated in a hot compost
them (3 days minimum @ 55C.) Shredding them will accelerate
this process & enrich the compost .
the problem is serious, a year of fallow and repeated
action, is the best and only answer.
work must be done immediately after ploughing & before repeated use of a rotary power harrow or rotovator
approach: Try adapting a potato harvester, or stone
separator system. A proportion of the collecting & sorting
of roots could perhaps be done using such a tool. We are
currently working on adapting a machine for trials.
must always be reduced to a minimum. It is best used for
eliminating the source of the problems, which often originate
in field borders, fencelines, or nearby plantations. In
some areas it can sometimes help to surface burn (in corners
& along fencle-lines), before going on to pull the
roots. Handwork & RIP has its rogueing role among
growing crops, but to try clearing an infestation at that
stage is wrong.
EXPERIENCE of removal of individual docks from established
grasses, before conservation (or ploughing). Spring 2004
(Using Lazy Dog & NO8)
dock plants (including seedlings) were removed from
7.2 acres, using 108.5 man-hours
docks included seedlings, growing among the clusters.
@ £60 = £106. per acre. Rate of pulling, about 99.34
docks per hour per man, including tea-breaks.
costs in future will be minimal in comparison.
There are always far more seedling docks near an older cluster,
than a cursory glance reveals.