For every labour intensive task there seems to be clever folk among us who will conjure up a new tool to make the job easier. As more people tackle weeds and take on bush regeneration projects, so too, more new tools are dreamed up and developed in the sheds of Australia.

The ‘Prong’ series is a range of five robust metal digging tools that rely on leverage principles to take the heavy lifting out of digging. Similar to the ‘Tree Popper’ these tools come in a range of sizes to suit different applications and the size of the user.

While the largest ‘Long Prong’ (5.3kg) is not specifically designed for weed removal it is quite effective at removing woody weeds at the sapling stage. It provides a non-chemical alternative for shrub species such as Ochna, Brazilian Cherry and Mock Orange and saplings of tree weeds such as Camphor Laurel, privets and Chinese Celtis.

As with all manual weed removal methods the best results are achieved when there is a reasonable amount of soil moisture as the roots are less likely to snap. The Long Prong is a versatile garden/property tool and is suited to digging holes for tree planting in heavy or compacted soil and in areas with lots of rocks. Other applications include digging up and levering out clumping weed grasses or for dividing and transplanting lomandras.

The much lighter and smaller ‘Weeder Prong’ (0.9kg) is geared more towards garden applications but is handy for levering out herbaceous weeds with tap roots without the need for kneeling or bending right over. Developed in south-east Queensland by Peter Nicol, these well-made, durable tools are lightweight given their strength and are reasonably priced. For more information see www.prong.com.au.

The ‘Wonder Lopper’ is a great weed control innovation that has been developed by Jeff Rayner, a bush regeneration business owner and Land for Wildlife member from Maleny. Anyone who has spent time cutting and painting large quantities of woody weed stems will immediately recognise the benefit of this tool. Cutting and painting has always involved carrying a cutting tool such as saw, loppers or secateurs as well as a herbicide container and sometimes a separate applicator such as a brush. This can involve at least two to three hands, lots of kneeling, bending, putting down and picking up and the risk of herbicide spills. Jeff’s Wonder Lopper allows the task to be undertaken with one device and removes the need to kneel as well.

The Wonder Lopper combines a herbicide applicator with long-handled loppers. Photos by Jeff Rayner.

The Wonder Lopper is essentially a set of long-handled loppers, connected to a light weight (2.5 litre) backpack. You cut your woody weed stem with the loppers as per normal and then press the primer bulb to apply the herbicide, which is administered via an attached 4mm tube that runs across and down the cutting blade onto the cut-stump.

If you are dealing with larger trees and employing the ‘drill and fill’ technique, the loppers can be detached and a herbicide application gun with nozzle can be attached for filling the drilled holes. This gun can be calibrated and is adjustable up to 3ml per application and is also used for scrape and paint applications.

Jeff and his staff have been using Wonder Loppers for a number of years and its design has been gradually refined and improved over this time. For landholders that have large quanties of woody weeds this tool could save you a considerable amount of time and effort. It will also reduce the amount of herbicide used, reduce non-target damage and offers a safer application system for both the operator and the environment. For more information you can contact Jeff at [email protected].

The Long Prong makes quick work of removing Ochna, young Camphor Laurels, Lantana and Murraya. Photos by Nick Clancy.

Article by Nick Clancy
Conservation Partnerships Officer, Sunshine Coast Council

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