Clean, Consistent Carrot Plantings: Seeding into Compost Strips for Reliable Germination and In-Row Weed Control in Organic Carrot Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2023: $19,426.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2025
Grant Recipient: Hearty Roots Community Farm
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Benjamin Shute
Hearty Roots Community Farm


  • Vegetables: carrots


  • Crop Production: cropping systems
  • Pest Management: mulches - general
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Proposal summary:

    Having grown carrots organically for nearly 20 years, we have always experienced challenges with in-row weed control and with inconsistent germination.  This project seeks to trial a production method for direct-seeded carrots that will improve germination and reduce in-row weeds by seeding into strips of finished compost, applied in a shallow trench on the vegetable bed.  We believe that the compost strips will suppress weeds in the row and create conditions favorable for reliable germination. 

    Recommendations will be made for best practices based on experimenting with two variables:

    • Depth of compost strip
    • Type of compost product

    To assess the outcome, we will measure:

    •  Seed germination percentage
    •  Weeds per row foot
    •  Yield and quality

    The data collected will determine if the additional expense and time required to make and plant into compost strips offers enough benefits in weed control (and reduced hours hand weeding), germination, and yield to make it worthwhile.  In year one, we will assess this system on a hand scale, to determine if it is viable using hand scale methods for smaller farms.  In year two, we will mechanize the compost strip laying process by modifying a bed shaper, fertilizer hopper, and seeder.  Then we will repeat the trial with fewer variables, using a replicated layout, allowing for statistical analysis of the treatments by our Technical Advisor.  Our final result will be a detailed, evidence-based plan for improved carrot production that can be adopted by other growers.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to develop a production method for direct-seeded carrots that will improve germination and reduce in-row weeds by seeding into strips of finished compost. 


    In year one, objectives will be:

    1. To determine an efficient system for preparing compost strips on a small scale.
    2. To compare results in in-row weed control using different depths of applied compost strips and different compost products.
    3. To compare results in germination, quality, and yield from different compost products.


    In year two, objectives will be:

    1. To develop a mechanized system to apply compost strips
    2. To determine the optimal compost product and compost strip depth by comparing the most promising four treatments from Year 1 in a replicated field trial and analyzing the data.
    3. To assess the financial feasibility of using this system by comparing the input and labor costs of planting into compost strips with the costs of using our standard system of producing carrots.


    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.