Wick Applicator

Wick Applicator

The biggest problem with my hay fields (and most hay fields in the southeast) is Johnson grass. Cattle seem to like it quite a bit, but people buying for horses and other high performance animals hate it. Horses will actually pick around the Johnson grass, so it adds waste which in turn adds cost to the buyer. Johnson grass is incredibly hard to kill--it only responds to Roundup. Unfortunately Roundup will also kill the grasses and legumes we want to keep.

Luckily, Johnson grass also typically grows taller and faster than the good hay crop meaning you have a certain height where you can target the Johnson grass without hitting the good hay. To do this, you have to use some sort of wick applicator or weed wiper. The cheapest version of this is a rope wick applicator. There are tons of plans online to build them, but I was concerned that I wouldn't seal everything correctly and end up dripping Roundup on good hay. I decided to purchase one from someone that's been making them for 40 years. It got here very quickly, so the only thing left to do was find a way to attach it to the tractor.

I decided to take the bucket off the loader and attach it to that. First, I needed to take the bucket off.

Loader empty

I'm fairly good at constructing things out of lumber, but I'm not a skilled metal worker (yet). I decided to make the frame out of two pieces of lumber -- one in front of the loader plate and one behind. My requirement was that I am able to remove the frame without having to disassemble the entire thing. The next step was to cut the two pieces of lumber and clamp them together.

Frame clamped

Once the lumber was clamped, I measured and marked the halfway point of each board and lined them up.

Loader frame lined up

I was going to attach the two pieces of lumber to each other with bolts, but I wanted something more secure than a clamp keeping the pieces together while running the drill. I used standard construction screws to temporarily join the boards.

Loader frame screwed

Next, I drilled holes and added four bolts which will allow me to attach and release the boards with just two wrenches. I also removed the screws since I was done with those.

Loader frame bolted

To attach the wick applicator, I ran two hose clamps between the two pieces of lumber. This will allow me to remove the bolts and take the applicator off the tractor without having to also remove the wick from the front board. I used U-bolts on the ends for further security.

Wick attached

By putting the applicator on the loader, I can tilt it up or down to increase or decrease the flow. I can raise and lower it as well to change my target height. To remove the applicator, I just have to remove the four bolts but I can leave the PVC portion attached to the front board.

So far it seems to work great. To eliminate Johnson grass, you have to achieve 95% eradication for five years straight so I'll be spending quite a bit of time running the applicator.