Seth Johnson/Daily Journal Mel and Keith Borg own the 5-ton, 35-foot weed eating machine known as The Beast. There are only around 20 licensed weed harvesters in Minnesota.

Archived Story

Ridding weeds one lot at a time

Published 11:08am Tuesday, July 24, 2012 Updated 11:08am Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It has been described by some as looking like the boat Willy Wonka drove down the chocolate river. Others say it looks like a combine tractor mounted on top of a barge.

The Beast is a 5-ton, 35-foot aquatic weed eating machine. Its sole purpose is to cut down and collect pesky lake weeds, leaving only clear, weedless water in its wake.

Keith Borg is the captain of this weed-devouring vessel. He and his wife, Mel, purchased a lot on Middle Leaf Lake, near Henning, in 2001.

“When we bought the lot we were struggling to control our weeds,” said Mel. “We tried all of the usual things, and they weren’t working for us.”

After six years of battling weeds with chemicals and rakes, the Borgs were contacted by a lake association member who had heard tales of The Beast. They decided it was worth a try.

“I was home the day they brought it out,” Mel said. “I was standing there watching amazed. It’s cool to see.”

Former Beast captain Whitey Mensching told the Borgs he would be interested in selling it.

“I got really excited,” Mel said. “I thought it was a great idea.”

The Borgs decided to buy it. The Beast needed a home, so they had a giant shop built to fit the massive harvester.

For around $320, lake property owners can have up to 50 square feet and a 15-foot path of weedy water harvested. The price will vary depending on travel and how many lake property owners are having weeds removed. It is more cost effective when multiple property owners sign up for weed removal.

The Beast is one of about 20 licensed weed harvesters in Minnesota. Weed removal is regulated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, so any time a lake property owner wants to call on The Beast, they must first ask the DNR if a permit is required.

Once the weeds are harvested, they are taken far away from the lake and placed in a field. Aquatic weeds can be composted or used as fertilizer, Keith said.

Weed harvesting can be more effective than other methods because a designated patch of weeds is completely removed from the water. Other methods can pull out or kill the weeds, but they are left to float to shore. Chemicals are at the mercy of the wind and currents and sometimes don’t take out the desired area, they said.

Even though it is cleaned thoroughly after each use, Keith refuses to take The Beast into lakes infested with aquatic invasive species.

“I won’t even take it near a lake with zebra mussels,” he said. “I don’t want to take the chance.”

The Beast is usually used from the middle of June through early August each year depending on when weeds start popping up.

Those interested in aquatic weed removal can contact Keith at 612-554-3804 or at

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