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Impacts of Plastic and Cover Crop Mulches on Weeds, Soil Quality, Yields and Season Length for Tomatoes
 

Impacts of Plastic and Cover Crop Mulches on Weeds, Soil Quality, Yields and Season Length for Tomatoes

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Reviews our research results on controlling weeds with cover crop mulches rather than black plastic and discusses the details of incorporating them on the farm. (Farmers, market gardeners and ag ...

Reviews our research results on controlling weeds with cover crop mulches rather than black plastic and discusses the details of incorporating them on the farm. (Farmers, market gardeners and ag professionals)

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  • This is some data from this year. As in years past the Rye has the most biomass, but if you notice the RV combo is less than 2010 2011. We are not sure why that is but it will be interesting to see what that means for this year.

Impacts of Plastic and Cover Crop Mulches on Weeds, Soil Quality, Yields and Season Length for Tomatoes Impacts of Plastic and Cover Crop Mulches on Weeds, Soil Quality, Yields and Season Length for Tomatoes Presentation Transcript

  • Impacts of Plastic and Cover CropMulches on Weeds, Soil Quality, Yields and Season Length for Tomatoes Christine Ziegler Ulsh Research Agroecologist and Science Editor ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Vegetable Research at Rodale1980’s – Research on amaranth, wild triga, and many other vegetable trials1990’s-2000’s – Focus on larger scale grain production2010’s – Renewed interest in vegetable production in balance with grain crops ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Research GoalsMake farming more sustainable and profitable bydeveloping and improving organic practices that: • Maintain and improve yields • Reduce or eliminate external inputs • Manage weeds • Reduce/redirect labor • INCREASE SOIL HEALTHHow? • Cover crops • Compost • Rotation • Reduce tillage ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • What is Organic No-Till? Three Basic Steps1. Grow a fall-planted winter annual cover crop, such as rye or hairy vetch2. Let the cover crop grow in the spring until it reaches at least 50% flowering (mid-late May for rye, late-May or early-June for vetch)3. Kill the cover crop by rolling it down with a front-mounted roller and planting with a rear-mounted no-till planter in one pass. ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • The No-Till Roller in Action Rolling Rye Rolling Hairy Vetch ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • A Brief History of Organic No-Till1988 -1994 - First tried in the Low-Input Reduced Tillage (LIRT) TrialLate 1990s - Attempts to stalk-chop cover crops not very successful2002 - Roller designed and built by Jeff Moyer and John Brubaker with NE SARE fundingFall 2004 – Received NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant for no-till receivedSpring 2006 – Received SARE No-Till GrantFall 2008 – Received OREI IOP No-Till Grant, led by Iowa State UniversitySpring 2011 – Received SARE No-Till Vegetable Production Grant ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Benefits and Challenges of Organic No-Till Benefits• Reduces number of tractor passes over the field (saves time, fuel, and money)• Keeps the soil covered to reduce erosion and weed growth at vulnerable times• Retains moisture and cools soil in mid-summer• Eliminates herbicide use Challenges• Can keep soil too cool in the spring• Can allow weed growth if the cover crop stand is poor• May provide habitat for plant-damaging pests• Requires later planting, and well-timed rolling ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • The importance of timing in cover crop termination Rye, rolled at the soft dough stage, lays down well and dies quickly.Vetch, when rolled before it reaches at least 50% flowering, doesn’t die and will continue to grow and compete with the crop plants. ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Other cover crops that can be used… Fall-Planted Spring Oats (die and lie down on their own at frost) Crimson Clover (flowers early)Austrian Winter Peas (flowers early) Or any grain – wheat, barley, triticale, mature oats, etc. ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Equipment modifications to make it work Additional Weight 130 lb per rowCast Iron Closing Wheels ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Ron Morse’s No-Till Vegetable Transplanter ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • No-till pumpkins ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • No-till peanuts ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • No-till eggplant ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • No-till tomatoes ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Cover Crop Mulches for Small-Scale Production? Yes!!! Cover crops can be crimped by hand, scythed or mowed. Timing is still key. Kill is most successful when the cover crop is at bloom or anthesis, but mowing can provide greater flexibility. ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Rodale Institute’s Current Vegetable WorkProject title:Reducing Plastic Mulch Use by Expanding Adoptionof Cover Crop-Based No-Till Systems for VegetableProducersProject goals:• Identify four effective cover crops/combinations for weed suppression and N contribution in vegetable production;• Measure efficiency of cover crop termination techniques, economic returns, and soil health impacts; ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • The Basic Experimental Design… 3 cover crop mixtures X 3 cover crop kill methods 9 treatments X 4 replications 36 plots Field 6 - 2012 SARE No Till Veggie Tomatoes Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4 50 10Cover10 111 35 Buffer 232 35 Buffer 321 35 Buffer 422V 112 RV 231 R 322 R 421 113 233 323 423 133 221 313 432RV 131 30 R 223 90 V 311 RV 433 132 222 312 431 121 213 331 412R 123 V 212 RV 333 V 411 122 211 332 413 First Digit Second Digit Third Digit 1) 1st Replicate 1) Vetch 1) Black plastic 2) 2nd Replicate 2) Rye 2) Roll 3) 3rd Replicate 3) Rye + Vetch 3) Mow 4) 4th Replicate ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • RI’s 2010 trial3 cover crop treatments: 1. Vetch 2. Rye 3. Rye-vetch mix3 termination methods: 1. Black plastic 2. Mowed 3. Rolled3 tomato varieties: 1. Black Prince 2. Bellstar 3. Glacier1 pole bean variety (KY Wonder) ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Changes to the RI Field for 2011 SIMPLIFY! • No beans • Only one variety of tomato (Glacier) • One row per plot for all treatments • Separate weeds only into perennial and annual categories (not by species) Field 9/10 2011 No Till Veggie SARE Tomatoes Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4 Vetch R+V Rye Rye R+V Vetch R+V Rye Vetch R+V Rye Vetch50 40 buffer 40 buffer 40 buffer 40 buffer 40 buffer 40 buffer 40 buffer 40 buffer 40 buffer 40 buffer 40 buffercovercrop 111 112 113 133 121 222 233 231 212 213 333 322 321 313 432 431 422 413 131 132 122 123 223 221 232 211 331 332 323 312 311 433 421 423 412 411plantingwidth 30 170 800 ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • The 2011 Tomato Field Throughout the Year ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Cover Crop Biomass and N Content 2010 2010 Cover Crop Biomass 2011 14,000 14,000 Cover crop biomass 14000 14000 June 10th June 10th 12000 12000 May 27th June 10th 10000 10000 lb/ac Dry Weight lb/ac Dry Weight lb/acre dry matter 8000 8000 May 13th lb/ac May 13th 6000 6000 May 13th June 10th June 10th 4000 4000 2000 2000 0 0 black plastic roll mow black plastic roll mow black plastic roll mow plastic rolled/mowed plastic rolled/mowed plastic rolled/mowed VETCH ALONE RYE ALONE RYE/VETCH MIX VETCH RYE RYE/VETCH 2010 Cover Crop Nitrogen Content Nitrogen Content of Cover Crops at TerminationCover crop N content 250 250 250 250 200 200 Cover Crop Nitrogen (lb/ac) 150 150 lb/ac lb/ac lb/ac 100 100 50 50 0 0 plastic rolled/mowed plastic rolled/mowed plastic rolled/mowed Black Plastic Roll Mow Black Plastic Roll Mow Black Plastic Roll Mow VETCH RYE RYE/VETCH VETCH ALONE RYE ALONE RYE/VETCH ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Weed Biomass at 4 and 8 Weeks 2010 2010 4-Week Weed Biomass 2011 Weed Biomass at 4- 6 weeks4-6 weeks after planting 80008000 8000 8000 7000 7000 6000 6000 Lbs/acre dry weight lb/ac Dry Weight lb/ac Dry Weight 5000 5000 lb/acre dry weight 4000 4000 3000 3000 2000 2000 1000 1000 0 0 plastic roll mow plastic roll mow plastic roll mow Black Rolled Mowed Black Rolled Mowed Black Rolled Mowed VETCH RYE RYE/VETCH Plastic Plastic Plastic VETCH RYE RYE/VETCH 2010 8-Week Weed Biomass Weed Biomass at 8- 10 weeks8-10 weeks after planting 8000 8000 8000 8000 7000 7000 6000 6000 Dry Weight Lbs/acre Weight lb/ac Drydry weight 5000 5000 lb/aclbs/acre dry weight 4000 4000 3000 3000 2000 2000 1000 1000 0 0 plastic roll mow plastic roll mow plastic roll mow VETCH RYE RYE/VETCH Black Rolled Mowed Black Rolled Mowed Black Rolled Mowed Plastic Plastic Plastic VETCH RYE RYE/VETCH ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Soil Moisture and Temperature 2010 2010 Soil Moisture Through the Season 2011 2011 Soil Moisture Through The Season 3535 35 35Soil Moisture by Date black plastic roll 30 30 mow black plastic roll mow 25 25 black plastic roll mow % moisture % moisture 20 20 % moisture % moisture vetch plastic 15 vetch rolled 15 vetch mowed rye plastic rye rolled 10 rye mowed 10 rye/vetch plastic rye/vetch rolled rye/vetch mowed 5 5 0 0 May 7th June 1st June 24th July 20th June 14th July 18th Aug 17th Sept 14th May June July 2010 Average and Maximum Soil Temperature by Treatment August June July August September 2011 Average and Maximum Soil Temperature By TreatmentAvg and Max Temperature 35 35 35 35 30 30 25 25 moisture % moisture % temperature (C) 20 temperature (C) 20 15 15 10 10 5 5 0 0 plastic roll mow plastic roll mow plastic roll mow plastic roll mow plastic roll mow plastic roll mow vetch rye rye/vetch vetch rye rye/vetch ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • 2011 Tomato Yields (total and marketable) 2010 2011 2010 Tomato Yields 120,000 120,000 120,000 120,000 total yield = darker bar (left) e marketable yield = lighter bar (right) e de 100,000 100,000 E E DE cd lbs/ac fresh weightlbs/ac fresh weight 80,000 80,000 c lbs/acre fresh weight CD C lb/acre 60,000 60,000 b b B B 40,000 40,000 ab AB a A 20,000 20,000 0 0 plastic roll mow plastic roll mow plastic roll mow Black Plastic Rolled Mowed Black Plastic Rolled Mowed Black Plastic Rolled Mowed VETCH RYE RYE/VETCH VETCH RYE RYE/VETCH ~ 4000 lbs of tomatoes harvested ~ 6500 lbs of tomatoes harvested from late July to early October from late August to mid October ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Comparison of Outcomes from 2010 to 2011 2010 2011 • Rolled Vetch was weediest • Most rolled and mowed cover (replanted=not enough crops were equally weedy at biomass?). 10 weeks • Mowed Rye/Vetch had the • Rolled Rye/Vetch had the fewest weeds, compared to fewest weeds, compared to black plastic. black plastic. • Rye and Rye/Vetch kept weed • All non-plastic treatments had biomass under 1500 kg/ha. weed biomass over 3000 • Rolled and Mowed Rye and lbs/ac (up to 6000 lb/ac). Rye/Vetch were comparable to • Black Plastic out-yielded all the Black Plastic treatment in other treatments. yields. • Rolled and Mowed Rye/Vetch out-yielded the Vetch and the Rye, and both termination techniques yielded equally.This is why we do multi-year agricultural research projects! ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Spring 2012 Cover Crop Biomass 14,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 kg/hakg/ha 6,000 4,000 2,000 0 plastic roll mow plastic roll mow plastic roll mow Vetch Vetch Vetch Rye Rye Rye Rye/Vetch Rye/Vetch Rye/Vetch ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • We also performed research at four collaborating farms in 2011 The Farmer Team: Mike Baki – Genesis Farm CSA, Blairstown, NJ James Weaver – Meadow View Farm, Bowers, PA John & Aimee Good – Quiet Creek Farm CSA, Kutztown, PA Elizabeth & Douglas Randolph – Swallow Hill Farm, Cochranville, PA Doug Randolphplanting his cover crops ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Plot Lay-Out at Each Collaborating Farm Weaver 2012 Cabbage Weaver 2012 Tomatoes Baki 2010 Tomatoes Baki Weaver std. roll std. roll 9 std. roll std. roll Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 roll std. roll std roll std * * 63 Tomatoes, Melons, and Tomatoes and Cabbage, Summer Squash using a raised bed roller Yellow flag Yellow flag Yellow flag Yellow flag 333 Markers installed here at ~66 ft G# G# G# G# G# G# G# G# Grass Buffer Road 11 12 21 22 31 32 100 ft long South North Drive lane 100 12 11 22 21 32 31 42 413 Markers installed power line row here at ~33 ft G# G# G# G# G# G# G# G# Blue flag Blue flag Blue flag Blue flag * * Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4 Row 1 Row 2 Row 3 Row 4 Row 5 Row 6 ^Corner of field Row 1 Row 2 Row 3 Row 4 Row 5 Row 6 Row 7 Row 8 3 ft 5 ft 5 ft 3 ft 5 ft 5 ft 3ft 5 ft 5 ft 10 10 10 10 7 10 10 10 10 Goods 2010 Tomatoes (or squash?) Road 39 Feet wide Grass Buffer Road 32 feet Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 10 ft. { roll: rolled cover crop, rye 70#/A and vetch 25#/A. std: standard practice - spaded cover crop with BioTelo biodegradable plastic mulch std. roll roll std std. roll R1 1st Digit: Block 2nd Digit: Practice (1= roll, 2=std practice) roll 55 11 Orange flag feet R 12 R2 Yellow flag std Clover 12 Rye R 11 R3 roll 12 11 21 22 32 31 21 Orange flag 350 R 10 feet R4 Yellow flag std Clover 22 Rye R9 R5 Yellow flag std Clover 32 Rye R8 R6 Good Randolph roll 31 Orange flag R7 Acorn Squash Row 1 Row 2 Row 3 Row 4 Row 5 Row 6 Acorn Squash roll: rolled cover crop, rye 100#/A and clover 25#/A. } 10 ft. roll: rolled cover crop, rye 70#/A and vetch 25#/A. std: standard practice - pre-emergence burn down std: standard practice 1st Digit: Block 2nd Digit: Practice (1= roll, 2=std practice) ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • The Raised Bed Roller ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • What we’ve learnedfrom the farmers’ fields…. ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Spring Cover Crop Biomass Spring Cover Crop Biomass Nothing here 14000 tb tb May 23 May 23 12000 tb June 2 nd June 1 10000 tb May 26 tb May 10 tbbiomass (lb/ac) May 25 8000 6000 tb May 6 4000 2000 0 Plastic Rolled Plowed Rolled Rolled and Rolled Black Plastic Rolled Herbicide Baki Good Randolph Weaver rye/clover ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Nitrogen Inputs from the Cover Crops nothing Inputs from Cover Crops Nitrogen Spring Cover Crop Biomass 14000 tb tb May 23 May 23 12000 250 nd June 2 June 1 tb 10000 May 23rd tb May 26 tb May 10 tb biomass (lb/ac) May 25 8000 6000 tb May 6 4000 200 2000 0 Plastic Rolled Plowed Rolled Rolled and Rolled Black Plastic Rolled May 23rd June 1st Herbicide Baki Good Randolph Weaver rye/clover May 25th 150 June 2ndlbs/ac May 10th May 6th May 26th 100 50 0 Black plastic Rolled Plowed Rolled Rolled and Rolled Black plastic Rolled herbicided Baki Good Randolph Weaver ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Carbon Inputs from the Cover Crops Spring Cover Crop Biomass nothing Crop Carbon Inputs Cover 14000 tb tb May 23 May 23 12000 tb June 2 nd June 1 10000 May 26 tb tb May 10 6000 biomass (lb/ac) tb May 25 8000 6000 tb May 6 4000 2000 May 23rd 0 Plastic Rolled Plowed Rolled Rolled and Rolled Black Plastic Rolled May 26th May 23rd Herbicide Baki Good Randolph Weaver 5000 rye/clover June 2nd June 1st May 10th 4000 May 25thlbs/ac 3000 May 6th 2000 1000 0 Black plastic Rolled Plowed Rolled Rolled and Rolled Black plastic Rolled herbicided Baki Good Randolph Weaver ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Weed Biomass at 4 and 8 Weeks 7000 Weeds at 4-6 Weeks SARE Veggie collaborating farmers 4- 6 week weed biomass 6000 5000biomass (kg/ha) 4000 th July 28 3000 th July 19 2000 th July 20 July 28 th 1000 0 Plastic Rolled Plowed Rolled Rolled and Herbicide Rolled Black Plastic Rolled 7000 Weeds at 8-10 Weeks On-Farm 8- 10 Week Weed Biomass th Baki Good Randolph Weaver Aug 29 (tom) Sept th 14 (cab) 6000 th Aug 17 5000 th Spring Cover Crop Biomass Aug 16 14000 biomass (kg/ha) tb May 23 May 23 tb 4000 12000 th Aug 29 tb June 2 nd June 1 10000 tb May 26 May 10 tb tb 3000 biomass (lb/ac) May 25 8000 6000 May 6 tb 2000 4000 2000 1000 0 Plastic Rolled Plowed Rolled Rolled and Rolled Black Plastic Rolled Herbicide 0 Baki Good Randolph Weaver rye/clover Plastic Rolled Plowed Rolled Rolled and Rolled Black Plastic Rolled Herbicide Baki Good Randolph Weaver ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Yields 45,000 tomatoes 40,000 35,000 30,000 tomatoes 25,000yield lb/ac squash squash 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 0 Plastic Rolled Plowed Rolled Rolled and Rolled Black Plastic Rolled Herbicide Baki Good Randolph Weaver ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • How do we explain these results? • Wet spring led to low vetch biomass and N input? • Gaps in cover rolled with the raised bed roller? • Thistle in one rolled plot at the Randolph’s? • NO WEEDING? Stay tuned for answers in the 2012 growing season! ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Changes for 2012 LET THEM WEED!!!• Collaborating farmers will be allowed to weed after the 4- 6 week weed biomass cut• The farmers will track the equipment and amount of time spent weeding, to include in the economic analysis• RI-site plots will also be weeded after the 4-week biomass cut, tracking labor ©2010 Rodale Institute
  • Stay tuned for project updates… Christine Ziegler christine.ziegler@rodaleinstitute.org (610) 683-1415 www.rodaleinstitute.org Thank you! ©2010 Rodale Institute