- Agronomic: rye
- Fruits: melons
- Crop Production: cover crops, no-till, application rate management, stubble mulching
- Education and Training: display
- Production Systems: general crop production
I want to develop a cultural method that would be an alternative to plastic mulch to obtain earlier crop maturity. I don't like to use black plastic because: 1) high cost, 2) time required to apply and remove, 3)disposal adds to the landfill, 4)extra labor required. Also, I want to eliminate fumigation under the plastic. The SEED grant I'm applying for is a variation of item no. 3 because I plant rye to trap nutrients as part of the Chesapeake Bay program; however, I use chicken manure for nitrogen and other nutrients. I believe the best use for chicken manure is crop production. I have the manure analyzed and my spreader is accurate within +100lb/A and application amounts are based on soil tests and manure analysis. This past year (1998) I tried to seeding into a rye cover crop on 15 acres and I observed excellent early growth. I had so much trouble with weeds that I could not evaluate watermelon yields, but I certainly liked the protection during a very cool spring. This experience convinced me I should switch to transplants. Cold winds in the Spring, damage early plantings and I want to use low rates of glyphosate to kill rye at 28-inch height and no-tillage transplant watermelons into the rye stubble. By utilizing a killed half-height rye crop, I think I can prevent wind damage and allow sunlight penetration to warm the soil. I want to compare watermelon yields in plowed soil to no-tillage in the same field. I will drop irrigate and leave the irrigation in place to use again next year for cantaloupe. A standard water wheel transplanter will be modified with a 3-inch waffle coulter to loosen the soil in no-tillage and the drip irrigation will be laid on the soil surface at the same time.