The world is slowly learning about the strong links between cancer and the use of broadleaf herbicides such as glycosphate. Glycosphate based formulations are known to be genotoxic meaning they damage genes which may then lead to cancer.
The conspiracy theorists amongst us may believe that big business has a huge financial incentive to hide the problems related to these sprays as they produce billions of dollars of annual revenue to their companies (similar to big tobacco).
These theories are a different topic however anyone who has used broadleaf herbicide sprays has experienced some of the unwanted side effects they cause including:
- Sore throats
With a farm in the middle of fertile potato growing countryside, Aussie Flame Weeders witnessed first-hand the huge amount of conventional broadleaf herbicide used within the growing systems for these larger farms.
With weeds becoming a problem on their own farm, the thought of using cancer-causing chemicals wasn’t particularly appealing. These reasons were the catalyst to explore other non-toxic weed removal methods on the Australian market to trial.
First weed killer trial – Pine Oil
A few of the initial ideas included a non-toxic organic weed spray that contained pine oil. Whilst this was indeed non-toxic and in fact smelt nice when applied it didn’t last a long time and wasn’t always 100% effective.
The ongoing cost of this management was prohibitive with large bottles costing $160. Strong concentrations of pine oil were needed with water, so the large bottle didn’t cover a great deal of surface area. Whilst this was a much safer product than broadleaf herbicides like glyphosphate, it would have been prohibitively expensive to use long term.
Second weed killer trial – Occulation
The next idea we tried revolved around tarping the weeds with black plastic with a form of weed control called occulation which involved covering the weeds in a black plastic which starved the weeds of ultraviolet light and oxygen.
Used black silage tarp from a local farmer worked best (*This is covered futher in the 8 hot tips article*). This worked well with a 100% kill rate if the tarp was left for 2-3 months in the same position. This proved difficult at times with high winds but was a good option in some spots. Occulation works well in an area that is large and black plastic is easy to maneuver in. It’s not easy to deal with when working in narrow garden beds or close to other obstacles.
Further research into solutions revealed that heat can be used to kill weeds. Generally, these methods were divided into either
- The use of a weed steamer
- A gas torch or weed torch
The Weed steamers we found online looked fun to use however were designed to go on a trailer and to be used by large commercial organizations such as councils and Landcare groups. With a price tag in the tens of thousands, this idea was quickly extinguished!
The use of a gas torch for killing weeds was something we had read about and thought we should explore. The idea of using a flame thrower to kill weeds sounded epic and after doing some research we purchased a Bunnings tradeflame propane torch. We wanted to use this for around the driveways and paths where plastic occulation wouldn’t have been practical.
Whilst the tradeflame propane torch was a simple alternative it had a very small burner head and was only capable of burning small weeds. Additionally, the small gas canisters that needed constant replacement made it evident that we wanted something with more power and more capacity.
After going down the rabbit hole and immersing ourselves about all things related to flame weeders we decided the Australian market needed a more robust and powerful weeding wand than was currently available.
We wanted to design a product that was
- Australian made
- Designed to last
- Capacity to generate a high amount of heat using minimal fuel
- Be compatible with standard LPG BBQ bottles common in households
- Have a long burn time
This was the brief we set out to create and we hit all of these key points we were aiming for. Aptly called the Aussie Flame Weeder – “Weed Wand” our weed killer wand is the first Australian made weeding wand on the market.
Using all stainless-steel materials for the burner head design ensured it withstood the harsh Australian conditions. It comes with all the necessary parts to easily attach to standard LPG bottle.