- Crop Production: conservation tillage, cover crops, cropping systems, drought tolerance, irrigation, no-till, strip tillage, water management, Roller Crimping, Weed Management
- Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: labor/employment
- Pest Management: mulches - killed, mulching - vegetative, weed ecology
- Production Systems: agroecosystems
- Soil Management: soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, employment opportunities
Managing Canada Thistle for Soil Health and Greater Farm Profitability through Crimped Cover
Crop and Strip Tillage on Annual Brassicas and Cucurbits
Our biggest challenges in appropriately scaling up our operation are weed pressure and the labor
costs associated with maintaining crops such as transplanted brassicas and direct-sown cucurbits.
With traditional tillage and annual turnover of our fields in the fall and spring, we inadvertently
increase our Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) problem on an annual basis.
It is our hope that cover cropping, roller crimping and strip tilling can solve this problem. A
summer grown cover crop of oats terminated in the fall with a roller, left in place through the
winter to protect the soil from erosion, then strip tilled in the spring and planted for the main
season will help us expand our operation by reducing labor costs on weed management while
also growing soil organic matter and reducing our soil carbon losses. We will be collecting data
on: labor and time spent in the strip tilled field for managing Canada thistle, crop yield, water
usage, and soil health (biannual Haney and PFLA biome density tests before planting and postharvest).
We will also manage a control field of the same crops, on the same spacing in a
traditional tilled, shaped, planted and hand cultivated manner so we have a comparison to assess
improvements and differences in water usage, soil health, and labor costs between the two fields.
We will host late summer field days to tour the fields, answer questions, and gauge interest form
the farming community. Once all data is collected we plan to speak at local conferences and
workshops to present analyzed data will the goal of helping producers adopt project techniques
for greater profitability, better weed management, and increased soil health on their operations.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Decrease perennial weed pressure (Canada thistle) through reduced tillage, crimped cover
crops and strip tilling.
2. Protect the soil biome and retain carbon in our soil through reduced tillage, crimped cover
crops and strip tilling.
3. Decrease time spent managing Canada thistle on the crops.
4. Increase profitability through decreased labor and therefore gain the ability to increase
local market share.