Flame Weeder: A Farming Equipment That Eliminates Weed Plants By Fire

Contrary to popular assumption, it doesn't set fire to the weed.

flame weeder
Image: farmersfriend.com

Among the many challenges of farming is weed control. That’s because these wild plants, or weeds, grow in unwanted places and compete with the desired crops for soil content. Therefore, it is important to eliminate unnecessary weeds using various techniques and tools, such as a flame weeder.

Around the world, farmers remove weeds by using hoes, scattering mulch, spraying herbicide, using a cultivator, etc. However, flame weeding is a unique technique that stands out because of its effective and efficient nature.

Before diving into more details about flame weeders, let’s check out what the process looks like. Here’s a video that shows a flame weeder destroying unwanted weed plants.

How a flame weeder works

Opposite to what its name might suggest, a flame weeder doesn’t burn the weed plants to get rid of them. In reality, it exposes them to a very high temperature for a short time. This destroys the weed plant tissue, which consequently causes its death. The heat unleashed by flame weeders could reach upwards of 1000°C (~2000°F).

Talking about the equipment itself, a flame weeder comprises a torch/wand, a hose, and a propane tank. This weed-killing solution can either be attached to a vehicle’s back, dragged along like a wheelbarrow, or carried as a backpack. A common attribute related to such equipment is BTU, which defines their energy output. Flame weeders have a BTU in the range of 40,000 to 100,000.

flame weeder backpack
A person using a backpack flame weeder. (Image: Tool Dude’s Blog)

Advantages and disadvantages

Flame weeders get rid of the above-ground weed plants that are usually about 1-2 inches tall. This weed control technique is the most suitable for short weed growths around the same height. While it works the best on annual weeds, perennial weeds, which have their roots intact, require consistent flame weeding every 2-3 weeks until the weed is completely dealt with.

Compared to other weed control methods, a flame weeder is more effective, more efficient, and poses a lesser risk. Unlike the manual procedure of weed-plucking, it doesn’t require significant human effort and time. Furthermore, it emerges as a better alternative to using herbicides since it doesn’t release harmful non-organic substances into the soil.

The only significant disadvantage of this method is that you might sometimes destroy useful plants unintentionally. This is especially true in dense farming areas, tightly packed with crops and weeds. Another disadvantage is that flame weeding is unsuitable in the presence of brown material, such as fallen leaves and twigs, due to the risk of fire.

Weighing the pros and cons, do you think this method of weed control should become the standard for weed control on farms? Tell us in the comments. While you are here, check out this tree stump grinder machine.

Priye Rai

Priye Rai

Priye is a tech writer who writes about anything remotely related to tech, including gaming, smartphones, social media, etc. He prefers to be called a "video game journalist" and grimaces when he doesn't get to be "Player 1." If you want to share feedback or talk about games, reach out to @priyeakapj on Twitter.
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