In between row mowing: weed control in organic no tillage row crops

Project Overview

FNC18-1134
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2018: $6,650.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2020
Grant Recipient: Wil Farm
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans

Practices

  • Crop Production: no-till
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Summary:

    No-till farming has numerous benefits over conventional farming including; improved soil quality, less soil loss, and less fossil fuel. Organic farming has its benefits: no herbicide use, socially desirable and higher price points for products.

    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, two-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:

    I want to develop an in-between hydraulically driven two-row mower that is inexpensive and effective, can be easily scaled up to 4 or 6 rows, 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.

    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.