This project seeks to address the problem of implementing effective integrated “pest” management (IPM) through traditional Indigenous intercropping systems supported by innovative use of modern equipment and methods. Our individual farms will gather information and serve as demonstration sites, highlighting how Native growers and communities with minimal financial resources can expand agricultural production in a scalable yet culturally appropriate manner.
Tribal member-operated partner farms each grow three sisters (corn, beans, and squash) along with plant relatives (sunflowers, amaranth, sun chokes, and other plants) using different techniques for weed, insect, and animal management pressures that are often magnified given heirloom Indigenous crops’ elevated nutritional profile. Partners will record and share their cropping layouts and data, evaluating the effects of different planting and management techniques using both a BCS two-wheel, walk-behind tractor and four-wheel tractors with an emphasis on implements that minimally impact the soil like a rotary plow, rolling crimper, and no-till planter. Additional IPM strategies will employ fencing, cropping layout (i.e. squash perimeters), simulated predators and decoys, natural seed treatments, fertilizers, and timing.
Three partners with four farm sites will demonstration and evaluate a spectrum of intercropping traditional production strategies incorporating degrees of modern technology, and additional partners will be invited to participate.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Evaluate and compare the effectiveness of traditional Indigenous cropping systems at different scales
- Expand knowledge by convening partner farmers with additional Tribal growers to evaluate and share best IPM practices at different stages of the project
- Share the results in field days, workshops, and through a resource guide. While applicants are applying individually, each also professionally works in Native American agriculture where they regularly teach and provide technical assistance to a large population of Native growers and food producers, so the reach of this project will be substantial.