Maize grown in twin rows with optimal allocation of growing space are the advantages of the LEMKEN Azurit precision seed drill and farmers wanting to use them to best effect need to be able to perform effective weed control across the full width. Modern technology made by Steketee is an ideal choice for treating DeltaRows effectively. Machines produced by this Dutch specialist for hoeing technology, which forms part of the LEMKEN Group, have been put to the test as part of a master’s thesis supervised by Prof. Dr. Bodo Mistele and Prof. Dr. Verena Haberlah-Korr at the University of Applied Sciences of South Westphalia. Mechanical weed control in maize was performed using a Steketee EC-Weeder equipped with finger hoes and harrows as hoeing tools. Ridging shares were additionally deployed to complete the pass.
Positive effects were confirmed in all variations of the trial. However, the harrow proved to be particularly effective for controlling weeds in the early growth stages, as it rips out and then buries weeds. With a precisely set Steketee hoe, weeds were very efficiently controlled from the time shoots are just emerging through to the cotyledon leaf stage. The maize plants withstood the mechanical load well even at the 3-leaf stage, resulting in very low crop losses. Compared to the finger hoe, the harrow had the benefit of also working on a section in between the twin rows.
Ridging around maize plants using ridging shares proved to be a highly effective step in combating larger weeds up to the 5 and 6-leaf stage. Depending on the operating speed, share width and condition of the soil, efficiencies of 85% and above were achieved as a result.
Conclusion: When equipped with the right tools, the Steketee EC-Weeder proves to be a highly effective hoeing machine for mechanical weed control in maize, even with DeltaRow twin rows. The smart camera system ensures reliable control at all stages of growth, as it can be set to twin row mode for young plants or single row mode for the final pass with large plants, depending on crop height. Conventional farms additionally have the option to combine hoeing between the rows with band spraying in the rows.