Mechanical removal of aquatic weeds has been an option to biological and chemical control because of environmental restrictions in some places in Brazil. The objective of this study was to develop a model for economic and operational analysis of a mechanical removal system for aquatic weeds, aiming a comparative study related to chemical control. The operation was studied in a reservoir linked to a pumping plant in Barra do Piraí-RJ, Brazil. The system consists of some cranes floating on rafts used to cut weeds and release them into the water flow. Before the suction intake there is a floating barrier to trap the weeds, which are removed from the reservoir by another crane, fixed on the embankment. Weeds are stored for some time and then transported to a disposal place. In addition, there is a fence to protect the suction intake from weeds that passed through the barrier and a mechanical system to clean up the fence. Data related to the total volume of weeds transported to the disposal place were collected for 14 months, and the volume produced per square meter of infestation for the major weeds was assessed. The company in charge of the system provided costs and other operational parameters, developing a model based on operational and cost parameters to calculate the total cost per hectare of weeds removed. The results showed an average monthly cost of US$ 17,780.28 per hectare of weeds removed. Despite the high costs, the system was able to control only 4.1% of the infested area in the reservoir at the time data was collected. Using simulated data for glyphosate application, chemical control would cost only 0.23% of the mechanical removal cost. The Sensitivity analyses showed that the compaction of the weeds for transportation, the volume of weeds produced per area and the cost of transportation are major parameters for the optimization of the system.
aquatic weeds; mechanical removal; costs