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    Sacramento-Area High School Farm Receives Innovative Organic Weed Control Technology


    Washington, DC (May 3, 2006) — Students and instructors at a Sacramento-area high school farm participated in an in-depth training today for the Batchen Stinger, a new organic weed control technology developed in Australia by manufacturer D.J. Batchen, Pty. Ltd.  The propane-powered Stinger uses steam to kill weeds in vineyards and orchards.  The students, who are members of the agriculture program at Lincoln High School, will soon be changing the face of farming in Placer County by demonstrating the state-of-the-art technology for area growers.

    Funding for the Stinger and two other new technologies was made possible by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS), who contributed a combined $80,000 to the Western Placer Unified School District.

    U.S. Batchen representative Kevin Smith led the session for students and agriculture instructors at the 280-acre school farm and 179-acre outdoor learning environment facility.  The farm, located in one of the fastest growing areas in Northern California, is involved in crop and livestock production as well as teaching agricultural chemistry and biology, natural history, and wildlife research.

    “This is a technology that a very limited number of growers in the United States have even seen,” Smith said.  “It’s been a pleasure to train Lincoln students on equipment that’s redefining weed management in agricultural applications.”

    The Stinger technology, which was demonstrated at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA, earlier this year, will be used between rows in the orchard and along irrigation ditches to control weeds on the school farm.  Since the Stinger uses heat to provide chemical-free weed control, the use of this technology is recognized by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as an approved organic production practice.

    Driven by steam-quenched combustion, the Stinger uses a generator to convert combusting propane fuel and water into a moist, high-velocity, 806-degree Fahrenheit (430-degree Celsius) air flow.  When heat is applied to the weed, the temperature of the moisture in the plant cells quickly rises, causing the plant cell structure to rupture. This kills the weed as it prevents nutrients and water from entering the weed’s stalks and leaves.

    The Lincoln students and instructors will participate in additional training with Greg Gilbert of the Sacramento-based Autumn Wind Associates on a low-emission propane irrigation engine and an intelligent remotely accessible moisture measurement and telemetry system to allow for real-time adjustments to irrigation pump operations.

    The Stinger and irrigation technologies will enable water and energy conservation benefits, along with improved air and soil quality—critical issues for the school and the state.  This award is part of the USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Program, which funds the development and adoption of innovative agricultural technologies and approaches through pilot projects and conservation field trials.

    “We’re very excited about the new technologies we’re receiving through this grant,” said Mike Trueblood, instructor of agriculture at Lincoln High School. “Our students will now be leading the way for local growers in adopting innovative technologies, conducting demonstrations and providing training for growers later this year.”

    PERC’s vision in agriculture is that by 2010, the agricultural industry will recognize propane as a preferred energy source offering exceptional value. This value is achieved through a unique combination of product benefits, including cost-effectiveness, efficiency and productivity, reliability, portability and environmental friendliness.

    For more information on PERC and its programs to promote the safe and efficient use of propane in agriculture, call (202) 452- 8975 or visit http://www.agpropane.com/.