NOTE: PI UNABLE TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT AND HAS WITHDRAWN FROM THE PROGRAM. PROJECT DISCONTINUED 4/12/2021.
- Agronomic: rice
- Crop Production: cover crops
- Pest Management: weed ecology
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
Our solution proposed in this project is to adapt the regenerative organic weed control method called mulch in place to rice production. This method has shown to successfully suppress weeds in other crops such as soy, wheat, and corn so we believe that it can work with rice as well. We also believe it can control the herbicide resistant weed Oryza punctata A.k.a. red rice without the negative externalities that exist with using herbicides. A cover crop mix of winter rye, oats, clover, hairy vetch, winter peas, and black oats will be grown over winter. Come spring, we will roll down the cover crop creating a mulch over the entire field. We will immediately come behind and direct seed the rice with a no-till drill. We will use the irrigation practice called alternate wetting and drying. This entitles flushing the fields once a week without inundation; dramatically reducing the water needed to grow rice. The cover crop will ideally outcompete the red rice but at least give it competition. This form of weed control is also a no-till method which means that red rice and other weed seeds will not be brought up to the surface with every cultivation. This form of weed control also blocks the sun from reaching weed seeds and plants while physically suppressing the whole spectrum of weeds too. In addition, the cover crops will help reduce erosion and nitrate leaching/runoff. While the cover crop is growing and after it is terminated it will sequester carbon, increase soil organic matter, and feed a wide spectrum of soil organisms.
Project objectives from proposal:
We will grow a winter cover crop, consisting of winter rye, oats, clover, hairy vetch, winter peas, and black oats , that will be rolled down at planting with a crumbler or soybean roller creating a mulch over the entire field. Ideally, we would use a roller crimper but we do not own or have access to rent one. We will immediately come behind and direct seed the rice into the cover crop mulch with a no till drill. We will flush rice to begin germination then keep soil moist without flooding for the rest of the crop’s life. We are measuring to see if the mulch will work well enough to suppress all weeds, especially red rice, long enough for the rice to form a canopy adding to the weed control until harvest. This is roughly 8 weeks that we need the mulch to work. After harvest we will roll the rice stubble then direct seed the summer cover crop, consisting of sunn hemp, clover, soybean, sunflower, buckwheat, and cowpea, with a no-till drill. In October we will roll down the summer cover crop then no-till drill the winter cover crop and repeat the experiment come spring. For data collection we will take a sap analysis of each cover crop and rice crop, measure yields from each crop, and count red rice plants.