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Title:
VEGETATION CONTROL MAT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2007/139399
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention relates to a mat for retarding vegetation growth, said mat configured to be capable of, while in use of at least partially surrounding terrain adjusted to a column base, characterised in that the mat includes a plurality of discrete rubber pieces. The mat helps prevent the growth of vegetation for a substantial amount of time without the need for continuous maintenance, or the requirement of additional anchors, or contaminate the surrounding area or wildlife.

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Inventors:
BELL, David, John (49 Three Mile Hill Road, Dunedin, NZ)
Application Number:
NZ2007/000127
Publication Date:
December 06, 2007
Filing Date:
May 28, 2007
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BELL, David, John (49 Three Mile Hill Road, Dunedin, NZ)
International Classes:
E01H11/00; A01M21/00
Foreign References:
AU2005100028A4
JP2005048567A
JP2003143975A
AU731883B3
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SNOEP, Robert, J. et al. (Private Bag 3140, 3240 Hamilton, NZ)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT I CLAIM IS:

1. A mat for retarding vegetation growth, said mat configured to be capable of, while in use, of at least partially surrounding terrain adjacent to a column base, characterised in that the mat is a composite including a plurality of discrete rubber pieces.

2. A mat as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the mat is opaque.

3. A mat as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the vegetation retardation is by photosynthesis prevention.

4. A mat as claimed in any one of the above claims, wherein the column is a road sign.

5. A mat as claimed in any one of the above claims, wherein the rubber pieces are recycled rubber shavings.

6. A mat as claimed in claim 5, wherein the rubber shavings are approximately 1 mm to 50 mm in length.

7. The mat as claimed in any one of the above claims, wherein the mat is circular.

8. The mat as claimed in any one of the above claims, wherein the mat is square.

9. The mat as claimed in any one of the above claims, wherein the mat is 5 mm to 20 mm thick.

10. The mat as claimed in any one of the above claims, wherein the mat includes an aperture through which the column is received.

11. The mat as claimed in claim 10, wherein the aperture which is centrally located.

12. The mat as claimed in any one of the above claims, wherein the aperture is connected to the outer edge of the mat by a slit, slot, channel, opening or other discontinuity.

13. The mat as claimed in any one of the above claims, wherein the column is tree trunk, marker peg or fence post.

14. The mat as claimed in any one of the above claims, wherein the mat includes approximately 90-95% recycled rubber shavings, 5-9% resin and 1-5% colouring.

15. The mat as claimed in claim 14, wherein the components consist of; approximately 95% recycled rubber shavings, 5% resin and 1% colouring.

16. A composite mat including a plurality of discrete rubber pieces, a binder; and colouring or any combination thereof.

17. A composite mat as claimed in claim 16, wherein the binder is a resin.

18. A composite mat as claimed in claim 16 or claim 17, wherein the binder is a resin. 19 A method of manufacturing a mat as claimed in any one of the above claims, by the steps of: a) adding rubber pieces, binder and colouring to a mixer;

b) mixing the components together until the recycled rubber shavings are evenly coated with the resin and/or colouring; c) pour the resulting mixture into a mould; d) applying pressure to the mixture and allow the mixture to set; e) remove the mat from the mould.

20. A method of manufacturing a mat as claimed in claim 18, wherein further binder is added in step (b), to achieve a suitable coating of resin and rubber shavings.

21. A method of manufacturing a mat as claimed in claim 18, wherein the pressure in step (d) is applied overnight, preferably for approximately 24 hours.

22. A method of preventing vegetation growth around a column; characterised by placing a mat as claimed in any one of the above claims around the column.

Description:

VEGETATION CONTROL MAT

STATEMENT OF CORRESPONDING APPLICATIONS

This application is based on the provisional specification filed in relation to New Zealand Patent Application Number 547540, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a vegetation control mat. More specifically, the present invention relates to the control of vegetation around a column, post or stem that stands substantially upright.

BACKGROUND ART

The present invention is concerned with preventing vegetation growth around columns to ensure the column remains visible. Numerous applications for the present invention are envisaged, such as for example, use around road markers, such as signposts, tree trunks or road lights. For ease of reference, the present invention will be discussed in relation to preventing vegetation growth around signposts, however this should not be seen as limiting.

There are a number of types of signposts that are placed around roads to assist drivers. One problem that exists particularly with signposts in grass or bush areas is the control of vegetation growth around the base of the signpost. For example, Figures 1 and 2 show a mild example of vegetation that has obscured a signpost, and the problem of overgrown vegetation obstructing the signpost visibility.

To counteract this problem, a number of methods have been employed to prevent the growth of vegetation around the signposts.

One method is the use of biocontrol agents such as glycol phosphate sprays, e.g., RoundUp™. Although this method does prevent the growth of vegetation around the signposts for a set time period, this method still has a number of disadvantages. For example, chemical spraying results in contamination of the surrounding soil which may affect the environment. Given the increasing regulations surrounding the use of chemicals, alternatives to spraying are desirable. Even where chemical residues are not environmentally detrimental, less time consuming and expensive methods are desirable. In addition, spraying may create an unsightly deserted area where the spray has killed the vegetation, a mess which is shown in Figures 3 and 4.

An alternative method used for controlling vegetation growth is the use of mowers to cut away the vegetation. However, this method is time, energy and resource consuming and needs to be performed on a regular basis. This method of control is also less effective for rural areas that are difficult to access or distal from settlements.

Many people also use animals to control vegetation growth along the road side. Although this method requires little labour, the use of animals can still be problematic. For example, animals have to be cared for and need to be appropriately fenced or secured along the roadside, to ensure the animal does not be a hazard to traffic.

A further alternative is to concrete or seal an area around a signpost. However, this is expensive and slow to implement. It is also difficult to remove or replace the concrete or seal if the post is to be moved.

Also available on the market are mats or various lengths of material that can be placed around trees, plants, or on gardens and lawns. Generally, the material used to produce these mats is cardboard or fine mesh. However, this material quickly breaks down and allows the weeds and/or plants to continue to grow. Another disadvantage with these types of mats is the weight. The martial is generally flimsy and therefore suitable anchors, such as pins or weights, are required to be placed on the mat, to ensure the material does not get blown away.

It should therefore be appreciated that it would be useful to have an apparatus which could prevent the growth of vegetation around the base of signposts and road markers that would not contaminate the surrounding area or wildlife. Further, it would be useful to have an apparatus that would prevent the growth of vegetation for a substantial amount of time without the need for continuous maintenance, or require additional anchors, yet still be moved or able to be replaced. Further, it would be desirable that this apparatus be inexpensive and simple to manufacture.

It is an object of the present invention to address the foregoing problems or at least to provide the public with a useful choice.

All references, including any patents or patent applications cited in this specification are hereby incorporated by reference. No admission is made that any reference constitutes prior art. The discussion of the references states what their authors assert, and the applicants reserve the right to challenge the accuracy and pertinency of the cited documents. It will be clearly understood that, although a number of prior art publications are referred to herein, this reference does not constitute an admission that any of these

documents form part of the common general knowledge in the art, in New Zealand or in any other country.

It is acknowledged that the term 'comprise' may, under varying jurisdictions, be attributed with either an exclusive or an inclusive meaning. For the purpose of this specification, and unless otherwise noted, the term 'comprise' shall have an inclusive meaning - i.e. that it will be taken to mean an inclusion of not only the listed components it directly references, but also other non-specified components or elements. This rationale will also be used when the term 'comprised' or 'comprising' is used in relation to one or more steps in a method or process.

Further aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the ensuing description which is given by way of example only.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

For the purposes of this specification, the term "mat" or grammatical variations thereof refer to a section of material placed on a surface, wherein the material covers at least a portion of the surface.

According to one aspect of the present invention, a mat for retarding vegetation growth, said mat configured to be capable in use of at least partially surrounding terrain adjusted to a column base, characterised in that the mat includes a plurality of discrete rubber pieces.

The inventors have found that the use of a mat that is made substantially from rubber pieces prevents the growth of vegetation over long periods of time and which lends itself to use around columns, such as road signs.

Preferably, the mat prevents vegetation retardation by blocking, preventing or inhibiting the plants natural ability to photosynthesis.

It will be appreciated that the mat may be provided in a variety of different shapes and sizes. In a preferred embodiment, the mat may be substantially circular. It is the inventors' experience that this shape is easy to manufacture and retrofit with existing posts. When the mat is in a circular shape, the mat may include an aperture sized to fit the column. Alternatively, the shape may be square so the mat can be positioned adjacent one side to the post.

Preferably, the mat may be opaque. Preferably, the mat may be substantially 5mm to 20mm thick. This thickness has been found to be desirable to not only prevent vegetation growth but to also be heavy enough to ensure the mat does not become dislodged, e.g., due to wind. It should also be appreciated that this weight allows the mat to still be able to be easily lifted and manoeuvred, as desired.

Preferably, the mat is placed on and covers a portion of ground or terrain surrounding the base of a column. Preferably, the mat may be substantially flexible enough to cover uneven surfaces or terrain. This is important in order to allow for hills or rough terrain.

Preferably, the mat aperture may be centrally located which the column can be received through. Other preferred embodiments, the aperture is connected to the outer edge of the mat by a slit, slot, channel, opening or other discontinuity. Alternatively, the mat may have a section removed, wherein the section may run from the outer edge of the mat through to a substantially central aperture of the mat. It would be appreciated that there may be other variations the receiving aperture may have to receive the column.

It will also be appreciated that the column may be of varying configurations. Preferably, the column may be substantially upright. In one preferred embodiment, the column may be a signpost. However, in other embodiments, the column may be tree trunk or other plants, a marker peg, a fence post, a light pole.

In preferred embodiments, the rubber pieces may be recycled rubber shavings. Preferably, the rubber shavings may come from used tyres. However, it will be appreciated that other sources of rubber or recycled rubber shavings may be used, without departing from the scope of the invention. Generally, the rubber shavings may be approximately 1 mm to 50 mm in size. This is advantageous to minimize costs by using rubber waste from old tyres, such as shavings collected during retreading processes. This also minimises costs by using a waste material.

In further embodiments, the recycled rubber shavings may be mixed with additional components including: a suitable binder, preferably the binder is an epoxy based resin; sawdust; colouring; such as green or khaki colour, and other binders and filler substances. Preferably, the mat contains approximately 90-95% recycled rubber shavings, 5-9% resin and 1-5% colouring. Preferably, the components may be approximately 95% recycled rubber shavings, 5% resin and 1 % colouring. The inventor has found that these quantities allow the mat to be flexible yet still bind and be economic to produce.

A preferred method of manufacturing the mat as substantially described above, includes the steps of:

(a) adding recycled rubber shavings, resin and/or colouring to a mixer;

(b) mixing the components together until the recycled rubber shavings are evenly coated with the resin and/or colouring;

(c) pour the resulting mixture into a mould;

(d) applying pressure to the mixture and allow the mixture to set; then

(e) removing the mat from the mould.

It will be appreciated that a person skilled in the art will know off suitable mixers to be used in Step (a). Generally, the mixer will have a reservoir and suitable stirring means, for example an auger.

Preferably, the amount of resin and/or colouring added may be sufficient to coat the recycled rubber shavings. However, in other embodiments, further resin may be added to the mixture in Step (b), to achieve a suitable coating of resin and recycled rubber shavings.

The mould used in Step (c) may be of any shape or size, depending on the preferred shape and size. In one preferred embodiment, the mould may be substantially circular. Alternatively, the mould may be in the shape of a square.

Generally, the amount of pressure applied to the mixture in Step (d) will vary. It will be appreciated that the amount of pressure applied to the mixture in the mould will vary as this will depend on how condensed the user wants the recycled rubber shavings.

The amount of time the mixture will be left to set in Step (d) will also vary. Generally, the time will be until the resin has sufficiently dried. Preferably, the time period may be overnight. While even more preferably, the time period may be approximately 24 hours.

The temperature the above method will be carried out will depend on the conditions for drying the resin. Preferably, the method may be carried out at approximately 20° to 30°. Even more preferably, the method may be carried out at room temperature.

Once the mat has been removed from the mould, an aperture for receiving the column may be formed. Generally, the aperture may be created by cutting a section into the mat, at the desired location. In alternative embodiments, the aperture may already be formed, by the use of an indent in the mould used in Step (c).

It should be appreciated from the above description that there is provided a mat covering for use in and around columns such as roadside signposts. The present invention has a number of advantages over the prior art which include the fact that the mat prevents vegetation growth around the column without risk to the surrounding environment.

Further advantages include:

• The mat is able to be retrofitted and removed as desired;

• The mat is aesthetically pleasing unlike spray methods that can leave a mess;

• The mat is non-slip and therefore minimises risk to pedestrians and/or cyclists; • The mat has a long life span thus preventing the need for continuous maintenance;

• The mat is cost effective to manufacture and distribute;

• The mat is light enough to be easily handled but also sufficiently heavy to maintain its position surrounding a post, without the need for additional anchors.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

Further aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following description which is given by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: F Fiigguurree 1 1 shows a perspective view of a signpost partially obscured by vegetation;

Figure 2 shows a photograph of a signpost partially obscured by vegetation;

Figure 3 shows photograph of a post where the vegetation has been sprayed;

Figure 4 shows another photograph of where the vegetation has been sprayed;

Figure 5 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of the present invention, while in use;

Figure 6 shows a plan view of one embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 7 shows photograph of the present invention while in use;

Figure 8 shows another photograph of the present invention while in use;

Figure 9 shows yet another photograph of the present invention while in use; F Fiigguurree 1 100 shows yet another photograph of the present invention while in use;

Figure 11 shows a plan view of another embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 12 shows a plan view of a further embodiment of the present invention; and

Figure 13 shows a plan view of an even further embodiment of the present invention.

BEST MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

For ease of reference, the present invention is now described in terms of a circular mat and roadside signpost applications. This should not be seen as limiting as it should be

appreciated that other applications, mats, and mat shapes may be .used without departing from the scope of the present invention.

As shown in Figure 1 and Figure 2 there is a column in the form of a roadside marker peg 10 that is surrounded by mildly over grown vegetation as indicated in the general direction of arrow 11. As depicted, the marker peg 10 is partly obscured due to the vegetation 11. As should be appreciated, given time the mark will become progressively more obscured. As shown in Figures 3 and 4, there is a column in the form of a road sign 20 (Figure 3) and marker peg 30 (Figure 4). As shown in both figures, the ground, as indicated in the general direction of arrow 21 (Figure 3), shows the result from spray control methods for attending to the overgrowth of vegetation. These figures show the results, as indicated by circles 25 (Figure 3) and 35 (Figure 4) respectively, which occur from the use of chemical compounds to kill the vegetation. As shown, the use of chemicals results in an unsightly mess of the area which is sprayed.

Example 1

Figures 5 to 10 show a number of views of the present invention when used in practice. As shown, there is a column in the form of a marker peg 40. Surrounding the base of the marker peg 40 is the present invention in . the form of a mat 41. Mat 41 is positioned on the ground, as indicated in the general direction of arrow 42. The mat 41 surrounds the base of the marker peg 40. In these embodiments, the mat 41 has a centrally located aperture 43, which enables the mat 41 to be placed over the marker peg 40 or removed as desired.

While in use, the mat 41 surrounds the marker peg 40. The mat 41 is able to surround the marker peg 40 via an aperture 43 where the marker peg 40 can be slotted though. The mat 41 then acts to prevent the growth of vegetation around the signpost. The mat 41 is sufficiently heavy to remain in position and needs no further maintenance or up keep.

With respect to Figure 9, this picture shows how inconspicuous the mat 41 can be, merging into the environment and avoiding ugly spray markings.

Example 2

Figure 11 and 12 show further embodiments of the present invention. In particular, the Figures show some further variations the mat may take.

Figure 11 shows a plan view of a mat, as indicated by the reference 51. As shown, the mat 51 is circular. Further, the section for receiving the column 50 is created by removing a portion (as indicated by line 52) of the mat 51. Here the portion 52 starts at the outer edge 53 of the mat 51 and proceeds through to a central aperture 54.

Figure 12 shows another embodiment of the present invention. Here, a mat 60 that ' surrounds a column 63 is created by two separate mats, indicated by 61 and 62. Here, the two mats 61 and 62 are in an 'L' shape. These mats 61 and 62 are connected together by a series of stapes 65. This enables the mats 61 and 62 to create an aperture 63 to surround the column 63, as still remain in place.

Figure 13 shows yet a further variation for the present invention. The mat 70 is rectangular, which allows the mat 70 to be positioned adjacent one side of the post 71. This variation may be particularly useful to prevent vegetation growth on one side of the post.

Example 3

To manufacture the mat, first all components, 94% recycled rubber shavings, 5% Resin and 1% colouring are added to a suitable mixer. The components are mixed together, until the resin and colouring is evenly coats the recycled rubber shavings. The mixture is then poured the mixture into a mould; where pressure is applied to the mixture for approximately 24 hours. The resulting mat is then removed from the mould, ready for use.

It should be appreciated from the above examples that there is provided a mat covering for use in and around columns such as roadside signposts. The invention has advantages over the prior art, such as being an alternative for prevents vegetation growth around the column without risk to the surrounding environment.

Aspects of the present invention have been described by way of example only and it should be appreciated that modifications and additions may be made thereto without departing from the scope thereof as defined in the appended claims.