No-till farming has numerous benefits over conventional farming: improved soil quality, less soil loss, less fuel. Organic farming has its benefits: no herbicide use, socially desirable and higher prices.
Combining those two is a challenge. Organic weed control in row crop situations is cultivation based; in no-till it is herbicide based.
Yet many farmers are trying for this holy grail as can be evidenced from the many SARE grants that focus on no- tilling vegetables into killed cover crop mulches.
Growing row crops in this way is challenging: row crops stay season long in the field, as opposed to vegetables that have a shorter life span.
The cover crop holds the weeds back for a little while but eventually the weeds will come up in between the row. Due to the high residue conventional cultivation is not possible. I want to develop an alternative weed control method: a three point hitch mounted 2 row mower that can be used for in between row weed control. The design will be such that it can be scaled up to a 6 row application.
Project objectives from proposal:
I want to develop an in between hydraulically driven two row mower that is inexpensive and effective and can be easily scaled up to 4 or 6 row and be used in row crops like beans and corn.
I want to make the design an open source design: I want to be able to provide design dimensions and drawings to anyone that is interested.
I want to use the mower at my farm.
I want to demonstrate and discuss the mower at my farm, and at field days at MU research center.