Vantreight Farms is turning back the clock on technology in an effort to turn out more organic produce and flowers in coming years.
The Vantreights recently purchased a Red Dragon flame weeder from Connecticut and are beginning trials this week on some of their fields.
“This is a new technology to us but not new in the fact that it’s been used for years and years all over North America and Europe,” said Ryan Vantreight of the farm equipment.
The flame weeder uses small propane burners to scorch weeds growing in fields, rendering them virtually dead but protecting crop seeds and bulbs underground.
“When you go over the field with the flamer, the heat on the weed disrupts the weed’s ability to absorb nutrients from the sun,” Vantreight explained.
“This is going to be a good replacement for pesticides and herbicides and it’s really getting back to the basics of what we used to do as farmers.”
Vantreight added that the weeder is part of the farm’s organic expansion program, noting that the farm currently grows some organics but has goals to up the ante on the amount they produce.
“This year were doing a lot of organics but next year our goal is approximately 70 acres and the year after that 100, and so on,” he said.
Central Saanich Fire Chief Ron French said that the flame weeding won’t pose any risks in terms of fire, and that residents should be aware that over the next weeks they may notice the flame weeder doing trial runs in Vantreight fields.
“We don’t want people to be concerned if they see or smell smoke in the air,” said French.
“We’re working with Vantreights to make sure everything is working as planned with the weeder and hope that this can be a good option for them in terms of weed control. This is an area where we have a delicate mix of farmland and residential and we need to make sure people know this is a safe practice.”
Vantreight added he hopes the public will be excited to know more organic local produce and flowers will be available because of the flame weeder.
“We just hope the public can be patient and understanding while were getting our bearings to make things work efficiently with the flame weeder,” he said.
“We’re working with the fire department to make sure we have minimal impact on the community. In the end this is going to be so much better than using Round Up or pesticides,” he said.
The flame weeder trials will run over the next few weeks.