Weed interference greatly reduces vegetable crop yield, quality, and harvesting efficiency. Many current weed control methods, including plastic mulches, intensive cultivation, and herbicide applications, can have adverse impacts on the environment. Indiana small farm operators have expressed an interest in adopting additional, non-chemical weed control tactics but often do not know where to start. Many beginning farmers, for example, have questions that can be answered by experienced peer-farmers or by simple on-farm experiments. We propose a grower-directed outreach/demonstration project that includes on-farm research/demonstration, the development of a learning community, and farmer-to-farmer education. Grower-collaborator research questions will guide weed management treatments. On-farm research will consist of a full set of treatments deployed at the Purdue Student Farm in a randomized complete block design and a subset of treatments on grower-collaborator farms. Grower-collaborators and Purdue scientists will learn from more experienced small-scale farmers, other farmers testing the same weed control method, and the broader community of farmers engaged in this project. Results, including trial and observational data, as well as first-hand experiences and recommendations from grower-collaborators, will be shared with small farm operators throughout the state and North Central Region.
Project objectives from proposal:
-Conduct grower-directed research with underutilized weed management strategies.
-Create a learning community where small farm operator-collaborators can share their experiences with and learn from one another.
-Promote farmer-to-farmer education by giving grower-collaborators a platform to share their results with small farm operators within Indiana and the North Central Region.
-Increased knowledge of non-chemical, reduced-tillage weed control tactics.
-Increased awareness of the importance of on-farm experimentation.
-Increased engagement of small farm operators across the state.
-Adoption of non-herbicide, reduced-tillage methods of weed management that improve weed control, decrease weeding inputs, and improve their farms’ sustainability.