Mark and Preston Stelter's fence cleaner picks up dead weeds from the ground and off fence lines, chops them into 2- to 5”-long bits and deposits them in 4'-wide windrows.

The men, who own a welding machine shop in New Leipzig, ND, debuted the patent-pending machine in early 2007. They say it's most useful in fall, winter and early spring.

“Many customers requested that we build something like this,” says Mark Stelter, Preston's dad. “Tumbleweeds and thistles are a big problem for graziers in this area. The machine saves time and is easier than chopping weeds by hand. If you don't clean them up, they can tear fence wires or lay fences over — especially if there's heavy snow.”

The unit runs off the pto and hydraulics of a 50-hp or higher tractor. It's 11' wide, 11' long and 5' high.

As an operator drives alongside a fence, the machine's vertical sweeper-type bristles pick up weeds and feed them onto a rotating cylinder with teeth. The cylinder grabs weeds and moves them horizontally to the chopping mechanism, a series of double-edged knives.

The machine rents for $25/hour with a $100 daily minimum. A new one costs around $20,000.

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