use of modern hand-tool technology, is proving to be an
excellent alternative (or just follow-up), to chemical weeding.
On our organic farm in North Yorkshire, where the no-bend
L-D tools are developed and made, weeds have for years been
controlled in fields, pasture & common land, mainly
2000, L-D started demonstrating this method at some 25 different
sites nationwide. Those weeding contracts, which were recorded,
lead to the kick-starting of other contract weeding gangs,
project, which has been DEFRA funded, involves L-D demonstrations
and start-up packages. Even though there remain problems
associated with full or part-time hand labour (e.g. finding,
organising, leading), land managers must be made aware of
the advantages associated with RIP.
of applying 'RIP' has been informative
Docks, Spear thistle, Ragwort can and should be 90% controlled
outside the growing season, when the ground is moist,
the plants small, the sun cooler, the pressure less.
(or creeping thistle), can be controlled by chiselling
the 5" rosette below the point of growth, especially
on drier sites.
two sites (or their conditions) are ever exactly the same
weeding job requires a strategic and methodical approach,
after a thorough site inspection.
work force has to be well organised, motivated, and skillfully
lead, (we use 4 or 5 man gangs).
cost-assessment methods & work-rates have been worked
out and published.
educated and careful land management is the vital ingredient
behind weed control (before or after applying RIP). 'Crop
cover' is the operative word.
beetle-grubs (& others), can be of great assistance
in that land management.
L-D tools enable a work force to work long days, repeatedly.
can also be misapplied in the wrong conditions / situations
(see limitations overleaf).
the application of 'RIP', there is
waiting for appropriately dry or still conditions (to
knapsack or boom spray).
need to remove of stock from the site (except that Ragwort
must be collected).
need to spend time ordering or mixing a host of different
need to let plants grow tall enough to weed-wipe or grab
(as with some tools).
need to watch seed heads approach maturity (as with some
need to find purchase costs of chemicals or maintenance
costs of machinery.
need for expensive protection against chemicals, or planned
disposal of cans to landfill.
safety inspections or records to fill in.
are other vital but less obvious advantages:
can be mostly cleared before the growing season.
is easy to be selective (between species) or deal with
any number of different weeds during one walk over the
land. This sort of flexibility requires a hotchpotch of
is easy to notice non-target plants (e.g. Ragwort rosette,
among the unwanted thistles in pasture).
is easy to notice unusual and important ecological details
(plant life, bugs & birds).
is no interference with soil bacteria, watercourses, the
flora, fauna, or spray operator.
are not applied to whole areas (as with boom spraying),
where weeds may be few or spaced out.
then, are the limitations of RIP?
workforce has to be found, organised, motivated and paid.
workforce of 4 seems ideal for obtaining accurate coverage.
Ideally, organise your own local gang, possibly with help
from your local machinery ring. Ask us to demonstrate.
this well in advance of the best weeding period
to pay up around £7 per hour per man (£56
for 8 hrs on site or 7 hrs lifting).
consecutive weeks on three sites (pulling Ragwort &
docks), is the longest that our contract gangs have worked
weed densities are very high (e.g., over 200 to 25 metres
sq.), RIP may be inappropriate
dwarf-sized docks in overgrazed pasture can make slow
docks from arable land requires digging deep to find the
broken root section. L-D have made a specialist long-reach
tool for this work.
arable clay it is best to wait for a dry day.
conditions in clay combined with flowering weeds (e.g.
Ragwort), make unnecessarily hard work. (Pull most of
them as rosettes, earlier in season)
mistakes occur (e.g. serious loss of crop cover in organic
farming), it is important to know when to cut losses by
using a mower, topper, forage harvester, plough, to avoid
fears, that the levering out of plants can expose a hidden
seedbank (especially on overgrazed Ragwort pastures), are
being put to the test. (see the report of our trial at Thixendale,
in the broken turf is always a sensible precautionary measure.
amount of annual 'follow-up' varies with the quality of
post-weeding management (depth of sward, grazing patterns).
Some follow-up is almost inevitable in the Spring, but it
becomes much less annually. Of course, this is also a common
occurrence after chemical applications.
(but not all) jobs will obviously take longer than boom
spraying or weed-wiping, and will cost more (in cash terms).
and their leaders have to be taught to recognise plants
at different stages of their growth
Dog Tools are keen to teach & inspire gang leaders
can always be arranged, so see our list of Weeding
Lazy Gang contacts
website includes detailed reports of 25 monitored sites and
trials. Ragwort, Docks, Spear thistle, Creeping thistle are
covered in arable, permanent pasture, new & old wildflower
meadows (countryside stewardship) in both conventional and
our list of coming de