University of Nebraska-LincolnDevelopment of a four-row propane weed flaming system to control weeds in agriculture without the use of chemicals.

Integration of Propane Flaming and Mechanical Cultivation for Effective Weed Control in Agriculture (Docket 16711) — $125,455
Innovative Propane Flaming Technology for Crop Production (Docket 15920) — $274,000
Reducing Soil Erosion through Thermal Pest Control (Docket 15385) — $60,220
Design and Optimization of a Propane-Fueled Weed-Crop Flamer (Docket 12343) — $70,000
Propane-Powered Flame Treatment (Docket 12202) — $101,409

Challenge Growers are increasingly seeking methods of weed control that offer an alternative to chemicals. Thermal weed control is a safe, reliable alternative to herbicides that is approved for use in organic farming operations for crops such as corn, soybean, sorghum, and sunflowers. Recognizing this opportunity, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) partnered with PERC to research, develop, and commercialize a four-row propane-fueled weed flaming system.

Partnership with PERC PERC supported UNL in the research, development, and testing of the four-row propane-fueled weed flaming system. The system does not burn the weeds, but instead uses propane-fueled flames to transfer heat to the weeds over a short exposure time, which bursts their cells and causes them to wither and die. Offering a split-hood configuration that allows more mature crops to flow through the system unharmed, the weed flamer offers growers an option that is safe for crops and more cost-effective than organic herbicides or hand-weeding.

UNL partnered with PERC to conduct extensive research to determine the appropriate thermal exposure needed to damage or kill various types of weeds, and to identify the effects of propane weed flaming on crop yield and the crops that make the best candidates for the process. Additional research showed that flame weeding reduces the risk of soil erosion as opposed to cultivation, which is frequently used in organic farming operations. Using these results, PERC supported UNL in the development and testing of a prototype weed flaming system. UNL conducted the tests at two different testing sites and compared six different methods of weed control to determine the most effective treatment plan. Once the development and testing stages are finalized, UNL plans to transfer the technology to a newly formed company that will commercialize the four-row system with PERC support and proceed immediately with the commercialization of larger eight- and 12-row units.

Result Commercialization of the four-row weed flamer is expected in fall of 2011. UNL’s multiyear partnership with PERC has taken the science of propane-fueled weed flaming from a concept to an effective, environmentally friendly option for weed control in both organic and conventional farming operations.

  • Safe and efficient equipment proven in field tests.
  • More than doubles the level of weed control obtained using only cultivation.
  • Allows farmers to return to the field immediately after treatment.
  • Does not degrade soil quality.
  • Prevents soil erosion.
  • Offers a treatment option weeds cannot become resistant to, unlike herbicides.

For more information Download the fact sheetVisit PERC's weed control page