Professional Training for Developing a Hands-On Organic Weed Management Learning Center for Commercial Market Gardens in Local Communities

Final Report for EW08-016B

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2008: $47,933.72
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: New Mexico
Principal Investigator:
Beth LaShell
Fort Lewis College
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Project Information

Abstract:

The Organic Weed Management Learning Center has successfully provided educational opportunities for local professionals, students, urban gardeners and community members. We hosted two organic weed management symposiums and recruited additional participants at Master Gardener, Farmer’s Market and tribal workshops. A demonstration/research garden featured 15 different organic weed management techniques that provided production, temperature and weed coverage data. We offered five hands-on workshops to participants that gave them a chance to view ongoing results and learn more about methodology, soil and sustainability analysis, weed control efficacy and market garden production. A blog chronicled the different activities and a website was continually updated.

Project Objectives:
  • Host Organic Weed Management Strategies Symposium
    Meet with regional Extension Agents to identify additional participants
    Continue to gather information on current producer practices and agricultural professional knowledge
    Hire hourly students
    Determine organic weed management strategies to be included at Learning Center
    Coordinate with local agricultural professionals to identify and establish on-farm demonstration sites
    Identify on-farm sites in Shiprock area

    Identify additional on-farm sites in 4-C region
    Schedule multiple workshops on methodology, soil and sustainability analysis, efficacy and production, and managing web-based information.
    Create training documents for each Learning Center workshop. Distribute and make available on website.
    Assist on-farm demonstration site coordinators with maintenance and data collection.
    Collect appropriate data to document efficacy, sustainability and production differences.
    Maintain website and BLOG
    Make all publications available online
    Assess efficacy of on-farm organic weed management strategies
    Create and print summary booklet

Introduction:

Colorado counties surrounding the Fort Lewis College (FLC) Field Station include La Plata, Archuleta and Montezuma, and San Juan County, New Mexico to the South. According to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, all of these counties have not seen a dramatic loss of farmland, but rather a significant shift from large to small farms. La Plata County’s economic base still relies on agriculture with 52% of its land area in farms. Between 1987 and 2002 the number of large farms (1,000 acres or more) has dropped from 77 to 54, while the smaller farms (10 to 179 acres) have increased from 401 to 566. There are increasing pressures on farm viability in this transition from large, conventional ranch operations to smaller landholdings with a variety of uses, all of which may demand new approaches to the use and protection of their natural resources.
As our region changes, we as educators and resources for technical information must update our knowledge, enhance our skills and shift our research priorities. Small land owners may want to develop sustainable enterprises but may not be familiar with the challenges that occur in an arid climate at high elevations. Their attempts at agricultural production can be a frustrating experience for not only themselves but also the local Agricultural agencies that try to assist them. The development of a Learning Center for organic market gardens weed management strategies would address the needs of newcomers to the 4-Corners region and long time residents looking for more sustainable alternatives or methods to increase income. One example would be incorporating these commercial market gardens into traditional ranches.
According to the U.S. National Standards on Organic Agricultural Production and Handling, organic production is a system that is managed in accordance with the Organic Standards Act and regulations to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. While many of our small acreage market garden producers are not certified-organic, they still want to incorporate the most sustainable practices into their operation. While there are a broad range of weed management techniques, knowledge of organic-only strategies are needed by agents to assist producers who either are organically certified, organic-exempt under National Organic Program or otherwise are determined to use organic-only methods. As traditionally trained agricultural professionals, we need to become more familiar with alternative practices that may work in our region. The Learning Center will offer hands-on training in weed management methodology, evaluation procedures and instruction on developing site-specific demonstration areas in their respective regions.
The WSARE Professional Development State by State Report shows that Colorado extension agents indicated they have very limited knowledge in the areas of organic agriculture (32%) and ecologically-based weed management strategies (17%). These values were significantly higher for New Mexico agents, 53% and 24%, respectively. The training available at a Learning Center for organic weed management strategies would increase the knowledge in these two areas of Sustainable Agricultural Practices.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Jim Dyer
  • Gary Hathorn
  • Darrin Parmenter
  • Phil Shuler

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

The Learning Center was established at the Fort Lewis College Field Station in Hesperus, CO at the site of the former Colorado Agriculture Experiment Station and Old Fort campus. The Learning Center provided hands-on training to agriculture professionals, master gardeners, model farmers, agriculture students and progressive producers. Our target region included LaPlata, Montezuma, Archuleta, Dolores and San Miguel counties in Colorado as well as San Juan County in New Mexico. Participants were recruited with the assistance of San Juan Basin Extension agents by hosting off-season organic weed management symposiums, initial workshops in the spring and hands-on workshops during the growing season. Flyers, emails, personal contacts and presentations were made in the region to increase awareness of the Learning Center and recruit participants. Once participants indicated an interest in the Learning Center, they were updated via email on upcoming activities.
Daylong winter (February) symposiums on organic weed management included university and extension personnel covering topics relevant to both agriculture professionals and producers. These presentations presented topic-related research results and practical recommendations. Initial workshops were held at the Learning Center (Fort Lewis College Field Station) in April to provide in-depth information on a selected topic, gather baseline data on practices and to introduce participants to the Learning Center facility. Attendees at these workshops were asked to complete a survey on current weed management practices. This data was analyzed by Jim Dyer, SouthWest Marketing Network.
With the help of Fort Lewis College students a demonstration market garden was established. Fort Lewis students propagated transplants in their greenhouse and the Agriculture Field Techniques course designed and installed the organic weed management research plots. Students also assisted with data collection for the 15 different treatments throughout the summer and fall.
Multiple hands-on workshops were held at the Learning Center from June until October covering topics in soil analyses, methodology, efficacy, production and web-based information. We combined workshop topics to create longer workshops so participants could be exposed to multiple topics in a shorter format.
In addition to symposiums and workshops, a blog ( www.organicweedmanagement.blogspot.com ) and website (www.fortlewis.edu/owm ) have been maintained to post workshop presentations, weed management resources and provide updates on the research plots.

Outreach and Publications

Host Four-Corners WSARE Organic Weed Management Conference – February 24, 2010 in Bloomfield, NM.

There were 60 participants, 8 model farmers, 5 speakers and 5 extension agents present. Of the participants, 5 were from Archuleta, 3 from LaPlata, 5 from Montezuma, 2 from San Miguel/Dolores, 45 from San Juan County, NM, and 5 from other counties in Colorado. In addition to a full program, recruitment material was distributed to encourage participants to become part of the Learning Center. Ten additional people completed a form indicating they would be interested in the Learning Center. They were added to our participants list and emailed information on all scheduled workshops.
Twenty seven of the participants rated their before and after knowledge on each of the presentations. The gain in knowledge (on a scale from 1 to 10) was: What is WSARE? (5.33), Cover Crops (2.63), Transitioning to Organic (1.52), Insect Bio-Control (4.04), Using Grasses in Revegetation (2.19), Hands-On Organic Weed Management Learning Center for Commercial Market Gardens in Local Communities (3.52), Crop Rotations (3.11). The most significant change for Agricultural Professionals will be to assist clientele with organic weed management planning. Producers plan to incorporate cover crops and crop rotations into their operations.

Shiprock Ag Days Presentation – March 9, 2010

This venue gave me the opportunity to introduce both tribal member, extension and NRCS personnel in Northern New Mexico to our project. After the presentation, I toured potential demonstration sites at some of the Model Farmers gardens. As a result, we selected Yvonne Todacheene’s garden as the site for our Shiprock demonstration.

San Juan County Farmers Market – March 20, 2010

This venue gave me the opportunity to introduce this project to Master Gardeners from the Northern New Mexico region. We agreed to schedule a special tour and workshop for their group in the near future.

2010 Initial Workshop- May 7, 2010 at Learning Center

The focus for the workshop was Biological and Cultural Control of Pests. There were 40 people who attended the workshop and 20 completed an evaluation form. Of the attendees, 29 were from LaPlata, 3 from Montezuma, and 6 from San Juan County, NM, and 2 from Dolores County. The program consisted of three formal presentations and a hands-on Insect Monitoring activity followed by a tour of the demonstration plots. Evaluations indicated that knowledge gained for the various presentations were Insect Identification- 2.58, Longterm Grasshopper Management – 4.63, Tamarisk Leaf Beetle – 4.09, Vegetable Pest Management for Small Farms/Market Gardens – 2.89 and Hands-on Insect Monitoring – 4.67. The audience was made up of 12 agriculture professionals (4 tribal representatives and 4 extension personnel), 7 farmers, 9 students and 12 Educators or Master Gardeners.

Established Demonstration Sites in Local Communities

The Shiprock, NM demonstration site was installed on June 7th at one of the Model Farmer’s gardens. She raises chilis, squash and tomatoes and uses flood irrigation so it made installation more difficult. The four students and the PI tried a couple of different techniques to make transplanting and watering easier. The Red plastic was installed across the irrigation channel to allow for transplants to be placed on both side of the water source. The cooperator later moved the barrier because it was too difficult to manage the water in the channel when it was covered up. To help with the extreme summer heat, we installed the white on black plastic and red plastic. The red plastic has also been shown to increase tomato production. As a biodegradable option, we installed EcoOne and the Embossed biodegradeable black plastic.

While San Miguel County is part of our Four Corners region and works with our San Juan Basin agents, travel times often prohibit growers from attending workshops. Therefore, we decided to establish a demonstration in the Norwood/Telluride area. We worked with the San Miguel Extension agent to identify some potential cooperators in her region. The most visible and enthusiastic group was from the Norwood Community Garden. They established a 1.5 acre garden in town with good access to water in 2009. After tilling the garden, a tremendous amount of Canadian thistle invaded the growing space so they were looking for some treatments that would allow them to grow produce in 2010. The Norwood site was established on June 3rd utilizing four students and the PI. We worked with community garden organizers to install 80’ strips of EcoCover (biodegradable), EcoOne (biodegradable), Black Plastic and Red Plastic in one section of their garden that had already been tilled. We provided them with 80’ of the reusable weed barrier obtained from NRCS for another section of the garden that was not yet ready for installation.

Conduct Hands-on workshops at Learning Center June 9, July 14, August 2 and 17, 2010

Soil Analysis: June 9, Aug 2 and August 17
Soil analyses hands on topics included taking soil samples, using a pentrometer (measures soil compaction), infiltrometer (measures water percolation) and soil pH. Participants were encouraged to bring a jar of their dirt with them so they could perform some simple tests.

Methodology: June 9, July 14, August 2 and 17
Methodology topics included working with different options for market gardens including barrier methods (traditional, biodegradable, and mechanical) and alternative treatments (corn gluten meal, flaming, horticultural vinegar). Participants were also given the opportunity to try out several of the hand weeding tools that the Learning Center has been using in the plots.

Efficacy and Production: June 9, July 14, August 2 and 17
Efficacy topics included visually inspecting the different treatments as well as reviewing production data from the different plots, showing participants how to take and interpret transect data. We also shared production data from the various treatments as well as preliminary temperature data with participants.

Web-based Information: June 9, July 14, August 2 and 17
All participants were given URLs for the BLOG, website, treatment barriers and tools resources as well as information on the thermacrons that record temperatures.

Attendance at the June 9th workshop was 48, July 14th was 20, August 2nd was 10 and August 17th was 25. The June 9th workshop had 30 growers (backyard gardeners), 10 master gardeners, 2 extension personnel, 2 Fort Lewis Professionals and 4 students. The July 14th workshop had 12 growers, 4 master gardeners, 1 extension agents and 3 students. The August 2nd workshop had 2 master gardeners, 4 model farmers, 2 FLC professionals and 2 students. The August 17th workshop had 5 NRCS employees, 5 master gardeners, 2 extension personnel, 5 farmers and 3 students.

Collected data on 15 different organic weed management techniques in market garden at Learning Center

Visual data was collected monthly along with season-long temperature and production data. Production data included weights (beans, beets, broccoli) or counts (cabbage and corn) for each of the treatments and their four replicates.

Website was developed and maintained at www.fortlewis.edu/owm

The website was used to post presentations from the symposiums and workshops along with additional reference material related to the organic weed management techniques including production results.

Blog was updated at www.organicweedmanagement.blogspot.com

The blog was designed to announce upcoming events and keep participants up to date during the growing season. We posted upcoming activities and updates (with pictures) of the different organic weed management treatments that had been used at the Learning Center.

Outcomes and impacts:

During the final year of this grant, we continued to introduce new information related to Organic Weed Management into the community and raise awareness for alternative methods of weed control in market gardens. The day long symposium and the initial workshop utilized the traditional means of formal presentations while the Learning Center workshops focused on hands-on activities. We were pleasantly surprised to have such a diverse turnout at the Symposium in Bloomfield, NM. The 2010 initial workshop on Biological and Cultural Control of Pests was very well attended. It showed us that there is a very strong interest in utilizing insects as a method of control. The participants have responded well to the hands-on approach of the workshops. Our target audience of extension personnel, master gardeners, model farmers, progressive producers and students, have been actively participating. The Learning Center’s programs benefitted 87 growers, 12 model farmers, 28 master gardeners, 36 agriculture professionals and 55 students in 2010. Demonstration sites were established in Norwood, CO (two hours North of Learning Center) at a Community garden plot and in Shiprock, NM (1.5 hours South of Learning Center on Navajo Reservation) in 2010. The PI and Fort Lewis students assisted with installation and educating the recipients. Both of the locations hosted open houses to show community members the barrier methods of weed control that were installed.
In 2011, the Fort Lewis Field Techniques in Agriculture class was taught for two summer sessions. This allowed the students to not only assist with installation of weed barriers but also see the results. The Learning Center’s market garden production plots used embossed black, white on black and red plastic as weed barriers. These methods were chosen for their particular advantages for the crops being grown (beans, corn and tomatoes, respectively). Additionally, we offered Soil Analyses and Weed Control workshops for the Backyard Food Production classes during June, 2011.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:
Hosted Organic Weed Management Strategies Symposium

The Four-Corners WSARE Organic Weed Management Conference was held on February 24, 2010 at McGee Park in Bloomfield, NM. There were 60 participants, 8 model farmers, 5 speakers and 5 extension agents present. Of the participants, 5 were from Archuleta, 3 from LaPlata, 5 from Montezuma, 2 from San Miguel/Dolores, 45 from San Juan County, NM, and 5 from other counties in Colorado. In addition to a full program, recruitment material was distributed to encourage participants to become part of the Learning Center. Ten additional people completed a form indicating they would be interested in the Learning Center. They were added to our participants list and emailed information on all scheduled workshops.
Twenty seven of the participants rated their before and after knowledge on each of the presentations. The gain in knowledge (on a scale from 1 to 10) was: What is WSARE? (5.33), Cover Crops (2.63), Transitioning to Organic (1.52), Insect Bio-Control (4.04), Using Grasses in Revegetation (2.19), Hands-On Organic Weed Management Learning Center for Commercial Market Gardens in Local Communities (3.52), Crop Rotations (3.11). The most significant change for Agricultural Professionals will be to assist clientele with organic weed management planning. Producers plan to incorporate cover crops and crop rotations into their operations.
All presentations from the symposium were posted on the website at http://www.fortlewis.edu/owm/Workshops/2010OWMSymposium.aspx

Met with regional Extension Agents to identify potential participants

Each year the San Juan Basin (LaPlata, Montezuma, Dolores, San Miguel, Archuleta and San Juan, NM) agents meet to plan the upcoming workshops for the region. All of the agents contributed to the Organic Weed Management conference in February and attended the symposium as well as several workshops. Each of the regional agents agreed to distribute information to current and former master gardeners, and publicize the Learning Center workshops in their newsletters. To increase participation in New Mexico, the PI attended a Farmer’s Market Workshop in January and presented information on the Learning Center and the first year’s results. To increase contact with Model Farmers and Agricultural Professionals working with the Navajo Nation, the PI attended the Shiprock Ag Days in March. One presentation was used to increase awareness of WSARE programs and grant opportunities. A second presentation included information on the Learning Center and results from the Organic Weed Management Techniques used in 2009. Most of the Model Farmers do not have an email address and only receive information via mail. We did see an increase in the number of model farmers that attended summer workshops. Three of the five agents also attended the bio-control workshop on May 7th and at least one additional workshop during the summer.

Continued to gather information on current producer practices and agricultural professional knowledge

Additional surveys were distributed at the Feb Symposium, NM Farmer’s Market workshop, Shiprock Ag Days and the Initial workshop at the Learning Center. This data was entered by hourly students and turned over to the SouthWest Marketing Network for analysis.

Hired hourly students

The project hired a part time hourly during the Winter 10 to assist with data entry and Spring planning. During the summer, we hired two part-time Fort Lewis College students to assist with data collection, plot maintenance, and workshop organization. Additionally, we were able work with SouthWest Conservation Corp by hosting a Youth (ages 11-15) Corp at the Learning Center. Three Fort Lewis students were hired as summer associates to assist with the Corp. They received a monthly stipend along with an Americorp award at the end of the eight week session. The Corp and the Summer Associates assisted us with all aspects of the project. Once school started, one part time hourly employee was maintained to help with continued data collection and completion of the growing season. Additionally, two students from the FLC Summer Field Class completed a 3 credit internship during the Fall 2010 semester. In the Spring of 2011, Fort Lewis College and the Southwest Conservation Corp obtained a year-long VISTA to assist with management of the demonstration/market garden. She assisted with installation and maintenance of weed management plots as well as the organization of the summer workshops.

Determined organic weed management strategies to be included at Learning Center

The 2010 Research Garden included 15 different techniques including plastic barriers, biodegradable barriers, cultural and mechanical. Participants in the 2009 workshops indicated a strong interest in more biodegradable options as well as colored plastics. The following treatments were applied: Control, Red plastic, Black plastic, White on Black plastic, Embossed black plastic, Biodegradable embossed black plastic, EcoOne, Planters Paper, EcoCover, Horticultural Vinegar, Flaming, Corn Gluten Meal, Hand weeding, and Re-usable weed barrier.
The 2011 Research Garden utilized three of the barrier methods in larger scale production. The sweet corn, broccoli and cabbage were planted in white on black plastic because of the lower incidence of corn ear worms observed in 2010. All of the tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse were placed in red plastic. Because it was inside of a greenhouse, we did not see extensive growth under the red plastic. We also used embossed black biodegradable plastic was used for the green bean variety trials with excellent results. These production plots were showcased during the Weeds workshop.

Coordinated with local agricultural professionals to identify and established on-farm demonstration sites

Working with Gary Hathorn, Model Farmer Coordinator, we identified two potential cooperators and sites for the on-farm demonstrations in Shiprock, NM. After visiting with two producers and visiting their respective locations, we selected the cooperator that was more accessible and grew a wider variety of crops.
While San Miguel County is part of our Four Corners region and works with our San Juan Basin agents, travel times often prohibit growers from attending workshops. Therefore, we decided to establish a demonstration in the Norwood/Telluride area. We worked with the San Miguel Extension agent to identify some potential cooperators in her region. The most visible and enthusiastic group was from the Norwood Community Garden. They established a 1.5 acre garden in town with good access to water in 2009. After tilling the garden, a tremendous amount of Canadian thistle invaded the growing space so they were looking for some treatments that would allow them to grow produce in 2010.
The Norwood site was established on June 3rd utilizing four students and the PI. We worked with community garden organizers to install 80’ strips of EcoCover (biodegradable), EcoOne (biodegradable), Black Plastic and Red Plastic in one section of their garden that had already been tilled. We provided them with 80’ of the reusable weed barrier obtained from NRCS for another section of the garden that was not yet ready for installation.
The Shiprock, NM demonstration site was installed on June 7th at one of the Model Farmer’s gardens. She raises chilis, squash and tomatoes and uses flood irrigation so it made installation more difficult. We tried a couple of different techniques to make transplanting and watering easier. The Red plastic was installed across the irrigation channel to allow for transplants to be placed on both side of the water source. The cooperator later moved the barrier because it was too difficult to manage the water in the channel when it was covered up. To help with the extreme summer heat, we installed the white on black plastic and red plastic. The red plastic has also been shown to increase tomato production. As a biodegradable option, we installed EcoOne and the Embossed biodegradable black plastic.

Scheduled multiple workshops on methodology, soil and sustainability analysis, efficacy and production, and managing web-based information.

The initial workshop was held on May 7, 2010 at the Fort Lewis College Field Station. The topic for the workshop was Biological and Cultural Control of Pests. There were 40 people who attended the workshop and 20 completed an evaluation form. Of the attendees, 29 were from LaPlata, 3 from Montezuma, and 6 from San Juan County, NM, and 2 from Dolores County. The program consisted of three formal presentations and a hands-on Insect Monitoring activity followed by a tour of the demonstration plots. Evaluations indicated that knowledge gained for the various presentations were Insect Identification- 2.58, Longterm Grasshopper Management – 4.63, Tamarisk Leaf Beetle – 4.09, Vegetable Pest Management for Small Farms/Market Gardens – 2.89 and Hands-on Insect Monitoring – 4.67. The audience was made up of 12 agriculture professionals (4 tribal representatives and 4 extension personnel), 7 farmers, 9 students and 12 Educators or Master Gardeners.
We offered our workshops in a variety of different ways this year. We found that our audience liked the 4 hour workshop schedule and still found the Soils workshop to be the most popular. To give the participants more time to ask questions and network with their fellow participants, we offered a snack/meal break in between the two different workshops. Additionally, we worked with the LaPlata County Extension program to offer the workshops to their BackYard Gardening participants.
Workshops began in June after the plots were established by the FLC Field Class during the month of May. The students assisted with the selection of the methods and each of the 17 students contributed to the selection and establishment of the research plots.
In 2011 the Learning Center hosted a Soils Analyses workshop in June and a Weed Control workshop in August.

Soil Analysis: June 9, Aug 2 and August 17
Soil analyses hands on topics included taking soil samples, using a pentrometer (measures soil compaction), infiltrometer (measures water percolation) and soil pH. Participants were encouraged to bring a jar of their dirt with them so they could perform some simple tests.

Methodology: June 9, July 14, August 2 and 17
Methodology topics included working with different options for market gardens including barrier methods (traditional, biodegradable, and mechanical) and alternative treatments (corn gluten meal, flaming, horticultural vinegar). Participants were also given the opportunity to try out several of the hand weeding tools that the Learning Center has been using in the plots.

Efficacy and Production: June 9, July 14, August 2 and 17
Efficacy topics included visually inspecting the different treatments as well as reviewing production data from the different plots, showing participants how to take and interpret transect data. We also shared production data from the various treatments as well as preliminary temperature data with participants.

Web-based Information: June 9, July 14, August 2 and 17
All participants were given URLs for the BLOG, website, treatment barriers and tools resources as well as I information on the thermacrons that record temperatures.

Attendance at the June 9th workshop was 48, July 14th was 20, August 2nd was 10 and August 17th was 25. The June 9th workshop had 30 growers (backyard gardeners), 10 master gardeners, 2 extension personnel, 2 Fort Lewis Professionals and 4 students. The July 14th workshop had 12 growers, 4 master gardeners, 1 extension agents and 3 students. The August 2nd workshop had 2 master gardeners, 4 model farmers, 2 FLC professionals and 2 students. The August 17th workshop had 5 NRCS employees, 5 master gardeners, 2 extension personnel, 5 farmers and 3 students.

Create training documents for each Learning Center workshop. Distribute and make available on website.

Both the Soils and Weeds workshops began with a presentation by Darrin Parmenter, LaPlata County Horticulture agent in a traditional setting The primary training document for the Soil Analysis workshop was developed by Dr. Phil Shuler. This topic was our most popular hands-on workshop because they were able to work with pH meters, infiltrometers and make dirt shakes. In 2011, we continued to offer this workshop to Master Gardeners and Backyard Food Production participants. For the Methodology, Efficacy and Production workshops, participants were provided with cost analyses handouts for the different methods being studied, potential sources for purchasing tools and barriers along with websites for technology like thermocrons. These resources are available on the website at www.fortlewis.edu/owm.

Assist on-farm demonstration site coordinators with maintenance and data collection.

The PI purchased all of the supplies needed for the site and coordinators. With the assistance of Fort Lewis College students and on-site participants, the demonstration sites were installed in June. Each of the sites were managed by the individual cooperators. They planted, monitored and documented (mostly pictures) their on-farm sites. Each of the sites hosted open houses to share the information with other members of their community.

Collected appropriate data to document efficacy, sustainability and production differences.

Data collected on the research plots included journal entries documenting planting and germination dates for the various crops as well as any unique observations (ie: weed growth under red plastic), recording production data by treatment, replicate and crop, and mid-season transects to characterize plant populations within treatment and replicate. Production data included weighing all produce from bean, beets, and broccoli crops while the cabbage and corn yields were only counted. Weights and counts were entered into MS Access for analyses. Thermacrons were used to record soil temperatures every 90 minutes in each of the organic weed management treatments from May 20th through September 25th. They were buried 4 inches into the soil on the Southwest corner of each plot. Data was downloaded into MS Access for analyses.

Assessed efficacy of organic weed management strategies

Pictures of the 15 different techniques were taken at least once a month beginning with their establishment in May. These pictures were used to document observations and support the numeric data being collected. These pictures were also placed in the blog, on the website and were used in project presentations.
Vegetables were harvested at appropriate maturity and weights and counts of each rep and treatment were recorded. Summary data was entered into MS Access by Fort Lewis College work study students. To account for the yearly variation in weather and methods used, a within-year ratio was calculated for both production weight and counts (cabbage and corn). These ratios were then averaged over the entire period of the grant (2008-2011) and treatments were ranked on both production weight and counts. Tables summarizing the findings are included in the final report and the Learning Center Summary document.
A 20’ transect line was used to record weed, crop or bare ground every 12 inches. Three transects were taken in each replicate for a total of 240 data points per treatment. The data collected in 2010 was combined with 2009 data and percentages for bare ground, crop and weed coverage were calculated for each treatment. MS Access was used to calculate percentage of bare ground, crop and weed coverage for each treatment. Tables summarizing these findings are included in the final report and the Learning Center Summary document.
Temperature data from the thermacrons were analyzed in MS Access by calculating minimum, maximum and average temperatures for each month. Treatments were also ranked on average temperatures. Tables summarizing the findings are included in the final report and the Learning Center Summary document.

Maintain website and BLOG

A new website was established at www.fortlewis.edu/owm and a redirect was placed on the Colorado State website (www.colostate.edu/dept/sjbrc/owm) The website was used to announce upcoming events, post presentations from the symposiums and workshops as well as posting additional reference material related to some of the organic weed management techniques we are using. All presentations from each of the symposiums and workshops are posted on the website along with photo albums and slide shows that highlight research results.
The BLOG www.organicweedmanagement.blogspot.com was updated with pictures and narrative on upcoming activities and events throughout the growing season. Initial production results were also posted along with treatment updates. Final production data was also placed on BLOG.

Create and print summary booklet

The PI compiled information for all of the Organic Weed Management techniques that were used during this duration of this project. Data includes methodology, observed advantages and disadvantages, purchasing and cost information, photos as well as temperature and production data and rankings for each technique. Once completed it was printed and distributed to regional Extension, NRCS and tribal offices as well as being available at the Fort Lewis Field Station and on the website.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

The February symposiums used traditional methods to provide research updates on cover crops, crop rotations, revegetation with grasses and insects that are being used for bio-control. Participants were agriculture professionals including extension agents, master gardeners, NRCS professionals and tribal employees, and producers. The initial workshop held at the Learning Center in May, 2010 was focused on biological and cultural control of pests. The topics of Insect Identification, Longterm Grasshopper Management, Tamarisk Leaf Beetle, Vegetable Pest Management for Small Farms/Market Gardens and a Hands on Insect Monitoring segment were very well received by the participants. Because of the New Mexico symposium and the recruitment presentations at Shiprock Ag Days, additional Model Farmers from Shiprock, NM along with tribal extension personnel attended the initial workshop. In addition to the formal presentations, attendees were given a tour of the research market gardens to encourage participation in future Learning Center workshops. The summer workshops provided agricultural professionals, model farmers, master gardeners, students and producers with field training on soil analyses, research methodology and results from the field trials. Additionally, the website and blog are available as resources for both participants and interested parties. Posting all of the presentations and training material on the website allows anyone to review the information compiled during this project. The summary booklet of organic weed management techniques will also be a good resource for professionals, educators and producers.

Future Recommendations

As the project completes, there are several observations that have surfaced that will be useful for future endeavors. These observations include how to more effectively deliver information to agricultural professionals as well as potential topics for this particular region. This project used a combination of traditional symposiums and hands-on workshops. For professionals, the traditional method of delivering information may be easier for them to attend if they are held during the work week while progressive growers may find a weekend schedule more desirable. Either way, relative to traditional symposiums we found that you should keep them in the off-season, limit the number of topics to five or less, and feed them healthy local food especially if your topic is food production.
As predicted, both agriculture professionals and producers thrive in the hands-on environment. It takes a lot of preparation to make this type of workshop successful. A few hints we have are: groups of less than 10 are ideal, provide plenty of shade, water and snacks if you are outside, remind people to wear comfortable shoes because they will be walking on uneven ground, provide clipboards and notepads for them to take notes and provide chairs for only the people that really need them. We noticed that when we set up chairs near the garden, people would sit in them and not participate as much in the activities. It quickly became a lecture environment and defeated the purpose of being in the field. At the end of all of our workshops (usually about 3-4 hours), we would come back inside and have something to eat or drink while we debriefed everyone. This was the time where we always got the most questions and saw the most interaction between participants.
To increase participation and recruitment for the Learning Center, we invited special interest groups for a tour. These relationships have led to increased interest in the Learning Center. We are all busy and the more we can share resources the better.
We learned people love gadgets that save them time. Participants enjoyed being able to take the glaser wheel hoe up and down the rows. They ask more questions about cost and features when it was in their hands. The thermacrons that we placed in the plots to record soil temperature were very popular because in our short growing season, temperature is always an issue. We were able to show them the units, give them an example of a temperature graph and then take them to the website where they could be purchased.
Through the course of this project, we found that both professionals and producers know their soil is their most important asset. We continued to offer Soil Analyses workshops in 2011 because of the strong interest. Market garden producers also have a lot of questions about pest management issues and how they are connected to their weed control methods. The Learning Center’s Weed workshop in 2011 focused on a trial project where we used white on black plastic barrier for weed control in broccoli, corn and cabbage. This trial is a direct result of a WSARE research garden observation that these crops, when planted in a white, reflective barrier had fewer corn and cabbage looper worms.
This project has successfully focused on organic weed management for market gardens. However, we have found a large interest in organic weed management for the 35 acre parcels where they do not have knowledge, implements, fences or appropriate livestock to assist them. We as agricultural professionals need to work more with these people who may not use their land for revenue generation but they certainly affect our weed seed bank which affects us all. Lastly, we need to continue to focus on educating students. Unfortunately, many agriculture programs are facing cuts or elimination due to the current economic crisis. We need to be creative in order to continue to educate these students who will be the agriculture professional of the future.

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.