Fact Sheet: Weed Management in Organic Grain Systems

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2018: $68,437.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2020
Grant Recipient: American Society of Agronomy
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Christopher Boomsma
American Society of Agronomy
Although chemical means for weed management are extremely limited in organic systems, there are still many tools and strategies that an organic farmer can use to ensure that weeds are managed in their fields to ensure a productive, healthy crop. To be effective with these tools, however, it is critical that one adopts the mindset of “many little hammers” -- no single tool will be a silver bullet, but by combining both proactive strategies of crop rotation, cover cropping, and variety selection with sound fertility and in-season cultivation approaches, weed pressure in organic fields can be successfully achieved. While some weed pressure might remain, it is critical to keep this pressure in perspective: Are the weeds negatively impacting the economics of that crop phase or future crop phases? Are they contributing to the weed seedbank? Are they contributing to insect and disease issues? Will lack of management this year make management more difficult in future years, as can be the case with perennial weeds? Lastly, it is important to recognize that the weed management practices used in organic production are continuing to advance with respect to science and technology. New strategies based on our understanding of ecology and weed biology (especially when partnered with innovations in equipment, including those allowing for no-till management) bring advanced options to organic farmers for meeting their weed management goals.
Fact Sheet
Erin Silva, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Target audiences:
Farmers/Ranchers; Educators
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.