Kura clover living legume mulch systems have been shown to be an ecologically sound, effective weed suppression method in soybeans (Iowa State University, 2007; https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/soybean/production_kuraclover.html) and corn (Ken Albrecht, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007; https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/files/article/Experienceswithkuracloverlivingmulchcroppingsystems.pdf) under research conditions. However, kura clover as a living mulch is slow to establish (“sleep stage”), presenting first-year weed control problems. After establishment, for organic farmers wanting to use living legume mulches, there are practical technical problems related to kura clover suppression/control within the cash crop row without the use of conventional herbicides, as well as practical management of the kura clover competition and height between the rows. This project proposes: 1) to establish kura clover into one acre of a winter-killed cover crop/soybean stubble mix using a no-till drill to minimize first-year weed growth until the kura clover fills in; then 2) use a tractor-mounted strip tillage tool (Orthman 1tRIPr strip tiller or comparable equipment; http://www.orthman.com/our-products.aspx?itemid=2048&pagetitle=1tRIPr) after establishment (“creep stage”) to prepare a clean, clover-free uniform seedbed for sweet corn planting. Once the kura clover is fully established (“leap stage”), 3) mechanical control of inter-row kura clover growth will be attempted using an inter-row crimper/roller tool from Walnut Creek Seeds, LLC (https://www.walnutcreekseeds.com/Dawn-Biologic.html) or comparable equipment.
Project objectives from proposal:
My project objectives:
1) To successfully establish a dense stand of kura clover as a living mulch;
2) To apply an innovative mechanical strip tillage method for seedbed preparation to interseed sweet corn into the established kura clover;
3) To test out an inter-row crimper/roller to control any aggressiveness in the growth or spread of the kura clover;
4) The proposed demonstration site is adjacent to a state highway, so I will promote the project by posting signs for passersby;
5) To document the project through photographs/video, take growth and yield measurements, and issue a press release to the media.