In 2012, I witnessed a new level of attention to detail
Why is there rapeseed on the edge of this bean field? Prior to working with Gary, I was under the impression that cultivation had limited ability to control in-row weeds and wondered if in-row cover crops might be of value
Steel in the Field shows how todays implements andtechniques can control weeds while reducing—or eliminating—herbicides.In practical language, Steel in the Field presents whatfarmers and researchers have learned in the last 20 years about cutting weed-control costs through improved cultivation tools, cover crops and new cropping rotations.
STEEL in the FIELDRow crop farmer profilesDryland farmer profiles
Weed control, however, starts in October.“The last cultivation in fall is our first weed management for spring,” Jacobson says. He uses 4- inch beavertail shovels(pointed at the bottom, wide at the top) on his chisel plow. The shovels leave soil roughly ridged with some incorporation of residue. The pass exposes roots of fall growing weeds such as quackgrass and field bindweed towinter’s wrath. He makes a second fall pass if weeds begin to regrow, or if quackgrass is a problem.
To stimulate weed growth, he harrows in late April as soon as soil dries out.His Herman stiff-tine harrow has round tines about 5/16ths of an inch in diameter..He controls the subsequent weed flush with a fieldcultivator outfitted with 9-inch sweeps. He makes asecond pass if weed pressure is heavy and if he can delay planting.
Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual provides anin-depth review of the applications of crop rotation-including improving soil quality and health,and managing pests, diseases, and weeds. Consulting with expertorganic farmers, the authors share rotation strategies that can be applied under various field conditions and with a wide range of crops. Crop Rotation on Organic Farms is most applicable to farms in the Northeastern United States andEastern Canada but is worth a look
Conservation Augmentation3 broad goals of Activation ecological management Suppression
A nice flush of weeds ready for terminationWhat can we do to maximize this flush? Not all tillage operations have the same effect
Terminating spring planted oats with a soil finisher ~ 3 weeks before planting cornGOAL = biological activation and weed suppression
Planting into poorly digested red clover residues Corn seed was planted into moisture but ~ 25% of one hybrid and > 50% of another was lost to seed rot and insect feedingWe had near perfect stands in every other field
Are you familiar with the fence post principle? Zone of maximum biological activity and rapid residue decay Deeper burial does not optimize decay but sends weed seeds into deep dormancy and brings deeply dormant weed seeds to the surface where they germinate slowly
Optimizing crop growth to maximize crop competitiveness-Select a well adapted variety (maximumleafiness and rate of canopy closure)-Delay field work (soil must be warm enough forrapid crop emergence)-Prepare a good seed bed (start out clean)-Reduce row spacing and increase populations-Row fertilizer?
Preventive management• Flush soil seed bank with fallow periods• Walk crops• Employ alternative equipment for mowing, pulling weeds• Weedy crops -> forage or cover crops
Hopefully it doesn’t really take 15 years for preventative management to pay
Well established fall planted small grains are very competitive against weeds
July 2010 We drilled into standing rye without rolling on 6/7 because of a very narrow window between rains.We ended up knocking down the ridges and were not able to plant these plots until 7/4 due to excessive wetness
November 2010 Significant foxtail pressure but almost no broadleaf weedsPlot yields ranged from 42-52 bu/ac