Gentle Machinery Larger-Scale Works Want Larger-Scale Tools
Pw, Whole Earth
I know everybody wants access to tools they can buy for individual use. It's Amerika. But there are new ways to think about tools--tools that only a group with a pool of money can purchase, rent, or lease. They're more difficult to think about because first you have to join a group project.
Group-tool needs arise at the moment when all the manual labor in the world seems too scarce, too hard, too expensive, or too time consuming. Perhaps, one thinks, all the work can be done by hands (perhaps in China by so-called "volunteers" or brigades--but even there, stoop labor is no longer glorious). In any case, American volunteersim, though crucial and committed, has yet to reach the Chinese scale or a scale that can replace machinery.
We've already promoted tools whose power is like 100 hands--dozers, extractors, and hotshot operators for restoring streams (Whole Earth, Summer 1998). Here's some, yes, gentler machinery for nurturing life back on the land. And companies who, in most cases, understand that humans design the project and control when and where a machine should go; the project should not be designed for the machine.
--PW [Suggested by Dave Egan.]
Ag-Renewal (seed harvesting and cleaning equipment) 1710 Airport Road, Weatherford, OK 73096 800/658-1446, 580/772-7059 www.ag-renewal.com
Mechanical seed stripping is, to most, the second best way to collect viable seed. The best method is the "stem-top method": cut the stem tops of each grass plant, allow them to mature in the right climate, allow seeds of different ages to harden, and then strip them off. The milky and soft dough seeds join the already hardened.
Ag-Renewal makes the best of the second-best method. Their seed shucker checks out a field to see if it's worth harvesting and what the seed purity or mix will be. Their giant combine-like seed strippers use a flailing brush to remove seeds from grass heads.
Prairie Habitats (portable and pull-type mechanical seed collectors) $600-$5000. Prairie Habitats, Box 1 Argyle, Manitoba, Canada R0C 0B0 204/467-9371, www. …