- Agronomic: corn, soybeans, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Crop Production: crop rotation
- Education and Training: extension
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
- Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, weed ecology
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
The continuing rise of organic farming, a certified production system that prohibits the use of conventional herbicides, has strengthened interest in alternative weed management practices that utilize a variety of tactics to reduce weed pressure. Weed management is the biggest challenge for organic growers. Seed predation from granivorous invertebrates and vertebrates can significantly alter weed populations and could be integrated into an alternative weed management strategy. Crop field borders have been shown to conserve these important weed seed predators. Current Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Reserve Programs (CRP), cost share programs that establish field border vegetation for wildlife habitat, could be modified to provide habitat for weed seed predators as well. We will investigate the impact three potential CRP field border designs have on weed seed predation in the adjacent crop field. During September to November, between summer annual weed seed rain and seed incorporation in the soil, we will investigate what types of weed seed predators are present, if their impact on weed seeds is affected by different field borders, and how far into the field do these predators leave those borders. From this experiment we will be able to make key recommendations to growers about what field border vegetation structure they can use to conserve weed seed predators and encourage weed mortality on their farm.
Project objectives from proposal:
1.)Determine the effects four different field border vegetation communities have on levels of weed seed predation in adjacent crop fields by invertebrates and vertebrates.
2.)Identify the specific predators responsible for this weed seed predation.
3.)Disseminate the results of this project to organic growers