Degree Name

BS in Agricultural Business


Agribusiness Department


Wayne Howard


This study was undertaken to determine the benefits, detriments, and costs of the three main weeding techniques used on organic farms: soil solarization, flame weeding, and hand labor. This study will provide prospective organic farmers with useful information and economic estimates for each method.

This report shows an in depth analysis spreadsheet on the annual costs of flame weeding. The analysis was performed on a 50, 125, and 250 acre basis. The spreadsheet breaks down the ownership and operating costs for each acreage analysis. The soil solarization analysis was taken from a University of California Davis cost study. In addition, the hand labor costs per acre were taken from Tom Willey, owner and operator of TD Willey Organic Farms in the San Joaquin Valley, California. The costs of each method were broken down and put into a chart to clearly show the final economic analysis.

It was proven that flame weeding is a substantially more cost effective method than that of soil solarization and hand labor. Hand labor proved to be by far the most expensive method. Per acre costs of flame weeding were as low as $76.00. Soil solarization costs approximately $600 per acre and hand labor costs about $2,500 per acre. The approximate total costs for soil solarization and flame weeding are, respectively, $30,000 and $13,179. Those costs trend to roughly that ratio when analyzed on a 125 and 250 acre basis.