Carrots as a Model for Defining Critical Period of Weed Management, Biofertilization, and Market Opportunities for Great Plains Vegetables Producers

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2022: $29,997.00
Projected End Date: 08/01/2024
Grant Recipient: Montana State University
Region: Western
State: Montana
Graduate Student:
Principal Investigator:
Fabian Menalled
Dept. of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences
Principal Investigator:
Mac Burgess
Montana State University
Dr. Roland Ebel
Montana State University

Information Products

Montana Organic Association Presentation 2022 (Conference/Presentation Material)


  • Vegetables: carrots, radishes (culinary)


  • Crop Production: fertilizers, food processing
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, value added
  • Pest Management: competition, integrated pest management, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, values-based supply chains

    Proposal abstract:

    An essential aspect of making agriculture economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable is to look at food production in a holistic manner. From a crop being planted to being brought home, it is fundamental to assess how to increase the sustainability of all steps. This is especially relevant for organic vegetable producers where the use of synthetic off-farm inputs is banned. In these systems, the challenges of intense labor shortages across the USA, coupled with increased consumer demand for diverse and locally sourced produce, underscores the need for versatile integrated management tactics.  Yet, little research has been done to jointly assess weed management, soil health, and value-added market opportunities in organic vegetable farms.  To address this knowledge gap, this research and education project will combine on-farm research with experimental plots and greenhouse studies to 1) define the critical period of weed control, 2) assess the use of biofertilizers as soil amendments, and 3) investigate value-added market opportunities in organic vegetable production.  We will use carrots (Daucus carota var. sativus) as a model crop due to its high market value and management challenges. By assessing yield, quality, and labor needs, results will improve growers’ quality of life by enabling them to optimize inputs, crop quality, value-added products, and net returns. To secure adoption of our results, education outcomes will include field days, a short video, Extension articles, and community outreach. Plots will be used as educational tools to explain ecologically-based crop management in various classes at Montana State University.   

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research Objectives 

    • Objective 1. Determine the length of the critical period of weed control in organically grown carrots (Kubinski, Brown, Gustafson, Chance, Burgess, Menalled)
    • Objective 2. Evaluate the impact of on-farm generated biofertilizer as a soil amendment on carrot growth and weed competition (Kubinski, Ebel, Menalled)
    • Objective 3. Investigate value-added products for vegetables in the Great Plains, specifically those impacted by weed competition (Kubinski, Walsten, Williamson, Burr, Ebel)
    • Objective 4. Estimate enterprise budgets for carrot production that include the different weed management scenarios (Kubinski, Ebel, Menalled)

    Educational Objectives

    • Objective 1.  Develop and deliver an off-campus education program aimed at enhancing the sustainability of vegetable farms (Kubinski, Brown, Gustafson, Chance, Ebel, Walsten, Williamson, Burr Burgess, Menalled)
    • Objective 2.  Enhance student active learning on the sustainable management of vegetable farms (Kubinski, Ebel, Burgess, Menalled)
    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.