Tool Optimization in a Soil Bin

Hello Folks!
I am a graduate student at the University of Maine. The research I am currently working on is testing tool adjustments to optimize weed control using a soil bin. A soil bin is a large container filled with a soil substrate. On top of the bin is a tool carriage system where tools are mounted. The tool carriage has the ability to adjust tool angle, working depth, and speed. The soil bin located in Orono, Maine is 11.71 m (~38 feet) by 1.58 m (~5 feet) and was built inside of a heated glasshouse. I have attached a picture of the soil bin here —> 20200729_075538|375x500

Currently, I am working on the optimization of the Johnny’s Selected Seeds Tine Rake. I am comparing different tine angles, depths, and speeds to see how they effect efficacy of artificial weeds.
The artificial weeds I am using are wooden golf tees that are 35 mm (1 3/8 inch) long to measure disturbance of the tool. As we develop more methods with the soil bin, we will start testing surrogate weeds and wild type weeds. I will also compare the golf tees with other weed types to see if this is a viable way to test the disturbance of tools in an efficient way.
I plan on testing many different tools in the future and comparing them to adjustments in the field. The overall goal of this research is to provide farmers with the best tool adjustments for their conditions.

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Hi Jordan. I think these soil bin studies are great for efficiently improving understanding of the best way to adjust tools for different soil-weed-crop situations. Your setup looks great. We’re trying a similar approach at MSU in a high tunnel with a small tractor that runs along ramps above removable soil bins. I used to think flextine cultivators were simple but am realizing over time that there are many factors that affect their efficacy and relatively little science to guide with calibration. Since soil-weed-crop conditions vary so much, it will be great to apply your findings to help determine a logical sequence of adjustments to get the best result. If weeds aren’t being killed, should I go faster, deeper, adjust angle, or go buy a different flextine?!?

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@Dan_Brainard_MSU are you able to share any photographs of your soil bin and ramp set up? I would be interested to see.

Thank you for sharing @johnny.sanchez! It’s a very nice soil bin set up that you have at UMaine now and I’m looking forward to seeing your results. Maybe there’s a way to share a video at some point? I would be interested in seeing the adjustable mechanism responsible for carrying the tools through the bin at varying speeds, angles, and depths - really neat stuff!

It is interesting to see multiple approaches to “soil bin experiments.” I am working on a project at Aarhus University focusing on crop damage inflicted by hoeing and flame weeding across early growth stages, varying soil textures, distances, and intensities. Since we’re focused on crop plants, not weeds, and soil texture was a variable of interest our ‘bins’ are much smaller than yours; we use styrofoam flats. Here’s a photo of our experimental set-up in 2019. As you can see, with this approach there are a lot of flats that you need to keep watered and treat - one bin seems quite nice in many ways. :blush:

In this second picture, you can see the hoeing arm whizzing past the camera while hoeing within the styrofoam flat.