Several weeks ago, we shared about our experience with using a row crop burner to address weed pressure at The Farm Research Center in Garden City, Mo. You may recall that burners use a propane torch to create heat. The heat controls pre- and post-emergent weeds and grasses without damaging the crop itself.
As a residual benefit to weed control, we’ve noticed that insect pressure has noticeably declined in areas treated with the row crop burner. In fact, insect pressure has dropped more than we had anticipated. Heat from a burner may influence pests in several ways. For example, it may ease pest pressure by eliminating insect habitat between rows. Insects themselves may also succumb to high heat.
Relative to chemical-based insect control, burners can provide an extra advantage. This story from Midwest Producer explains that propane expelled from a burner can penetrate lower than air to reach insect eggs. Like other living things, eggs are sensitive to the heat if it’s applied correctly for the given circumstances. As a result, burners may address future generations of pests that otherwise may have inflicted damage on the crop.
The Midwest Producer story goes on to describe that alfalfa growers may try burning to eliminate alfalfa weevil eggs. Ideally, alfalfa producers would treat fields during late winter or early spring, and they could use the burner again if necessary immediately after the alfalfa’s first cutting.
At BigYield.us, we have seen reduced insect pressure in corn fields treated with a burner. In this video, Kent Kauffman of BigYield.us shares more about our experience.
Because burners use clean-burning propane, growers risk no run-off or contamination. Additionally, both certified organic and conventional growers may adopt the technology. This year, we’ve noticed that our organically grown corn plots, which have had burner treatments, have had less insect pressure than plots treated conventionally.
Contact us anytime for more information about adding a burner to your insect or weed control plan.