Two of the biggest challenges with organic corn production are weed management and soil fertility management. I believe a Durana White Clover living mulch system, which utilizes flame weeding, could help greatly reduce these challenges, resulting in improved yields and potentially higher profits when compared to a tillage-based system. The soil fertility would be improved in two ways. First, the white clover would provide approximately 50 to 125 lbs. of nitrogen per year. Second, the clover living mulch would provide an undisturbed habitat for mycorrhizae fungi. With regards to weed management, the living mulch will provide a barrier to light and thus deter weed growth between the row. In row weed control will be accomplished with the flame-weeder. The weeder will be used 3 times, once after planting and before emergence, then at the two-leaf stage, and finally when the corn is 18 to 24 inches tall. In addition, the living mulch will provide a medium for the tractor and flamer to drive over, which will help with timelier weed control during wet conditions.
Project objectives from proposal:
1.) Establish a 10-acre field with a thick covering of Durana white clover.
2.) Utilize half the field as living mulch plot and till the other half as a control plot.
3.) Compare yields of each plot to determine yield difference between living mulch and tilled portions of the field.
4.) Compare profits of each plot by calculating revenue and input costs.
5.) Create Facebook page to publicize the process and results of producing organic corn in a living mulch system.