Noxious weeds have the potential for economic and environmental devastation in a large geographical area. Weeds?–?their seeds and rhizomes — dig into the new soils and spread rapidly, choking out both the native plants as well as the agriculturally-based plants that are grown, thereby rendering areas unfit for regular agriculture and healthy ecosystems. Noxious weeds can destroy farming and wildlife-based incomes for owners and even their neighbors.
They can poison livestock and pets, increase fire hazard, compete with desirable plants, require investment of effort and resources for control, reduce the suitability of wildlife habitats, and change the nature and composition of plant communities.? Just consider
- Within a square meter there are between 30,000 and 350,000 seeds/m2 and 120 million to 1.4 billion seeds per acre.
- Economic impact of spotted knapweed infested areas both directly and indirectly are $42 million, which translated to 518 jobs in South Dakota.
- 21 species reduce Oregon’s total personal income by about $83 million, equivalent to 3,329 annual jobs lost to Oregon’s economy.
- Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium can be reduced by 40-90% in spotted knapweed infested areas.
- Leafy spurge can decrease the carrying capacity (how many animals can graze in an area) by up to 50%.
Numerous regulations have been enacted?throughout the United States and Canada to help prevent the spread of invasive weeds. Specific legal details vary from area to area, so it is important to research the location before work is proposed. Underscoring the seriousness?of this issue, legal fines can be significant and penalties may even include jail time in some jurisdictions.
While there are several measures available to mitigate the transfer of these hitchhikers, vehicle washing at the source is considered one of if not the most effective preventative measures. Construction, off road and recreational vehicles, ATVs and farm equipment carry contaminants in tire treads, crevices, wheel wells and undercarriage. Even emergency and governmental agency vehicles that enter a site for inspections or assistance are potential sources of contamination.
Washing Vehicles and Equipment at the Source
The est ractice widely used, specified, or even required in many areas, is a good and thorough equipment and vehicle washing in a contained area, prior to leaving the source. To be effective, washing must reach the undercarriage and wheel wheels, then contain?and filter?the contaminated wash water to separate out seeds, insects and their eggs and any other foreign organic substance. Filtration systems should be utilized, and proper end disposal of the contaminated wash water must be considered.
?In areas where water is at a premium, or difficult to access, it will be most cost effective to utilize a system that can filter water to an appropriate standard , to be used again. In the end, invasive weeds impact? everyone.?However, careful work habits and selection of proper decontamination tools will make the process less cumbersome, and allow your project to continue without hassle.
Choosing a Self Contained Wash Rack System
A self-contained washing station placed at a point prior to egress is a best practice. Second to that is a washing station or ?wash rack? located at the equipment yard or depot, in which the vehicles and equipment are washed immediately upon return and prior to entering any other work area or field. Wash racks can be purchased as semi-portable, allowing it to be moved and set up in other areas as needed. This is ideal for extended projects, such as construction or drilling, where the work is not permanent.
Wash Rack Design and Fabrication
While plastic or vinyl matts maybe acceptable in emergency situations, they have little lasting value in commercial or industrial applications.? Steel wash rack panel offer greater control over containment and can be engineered to meet more specific needs. With no permitting required, this bolt-together system can be installed in a matter of hours, and sized to your exact requirements, plus there is the option to expand later. The above ground wash racks are ideal for applications where property is leased, such as oil or gas exploration, and where the operator must meet track-out requirements without incurring leasehold improvements.
Above ground steel wash racks?are manufactured in specified length and width and are designed to carry loads exceeding 15,000 lbs per wheel. Elevated steel racks allow vacuum technology to recover the wash water; look for a low profile for versatility. Low profile racks allow low clearance man-lifts and forklifts onto the racks, and are safer for equipment and employees. Diamond-tread plate decks are often coated with grit-impregnated epoxy paint to for better grip even when wet and soapy.
Containment Walls and Drains
Containment walls allow access to both sides of the vehicle while reduce overspray. These walls are typically available in various heights and help ensure that wash water does not spill out onto the ground but instead into the floor channels for positive egress to water treatment or disposal.
Wash racks can include automatic conveyors with a wedge wire screen filter and suction pump that deposits mud and debris in hopper for easy disposal.
Resist the temptation to purchase household or ?prosumer? pressure washers. Commercial and industrial pressure washers?feature far superior water delivery technology for both high-pressure low volume or low pressure high volume, depending on the equipment being washed. Specify gas or diesel fired, with or without hot water, and at the GPM and PSI required. Skid mounted pressure washers are available for large-scale production, with suitable for forklift or crane. Self-contained units are ideal for field operations without utilities and may be available with one, two or three pumps. Each pump operates?independently in water pressure, temperature and if needed, solvent mix allowing you to blast, foam and rinse.