Using cover crops and crop diversity to optimize ecologically based weed management

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $98,732.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $70,084.00
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Dr. William Curran
Penn State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, oats, spelt, soybeans, wheat
  • Vegetables: broccoli, cucurbits, sweet corn, tomatoes
  • Animals: bovine
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Crop Production: cover crops, no-till, conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management, mulches - killed, mulches - living, physical control, smother crops, mulching - vegetative, weed ecology
  • Soil Management: green manures, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will build on activities being conducted as part of a USDA Transition to Organic (Transition) funded grant and a Northeast Region Integrated Pest Management (NEIPM) Research and Extension grant. A component of both the Transition and NEIPM studies involves the characterization of soil surface dwelling arthropod populations and how these populations may be impacted by various cultural weed management strategies such as cover cropping and crop rotation as well as by mechanical weed control methods. This NESARE grant will build on this work by expanding our research efforts at understanding the impact of cropping system diversity and disturbance on weed seed predation by beetles. The education project will focus more broadly on demonstrating how cover crops and increased crop diversity promote ecologically-based weed management (EBWM). On-farm demonstrations and field days will focus on cover crop management, cropping sequence, tillage, and other cultural management impacts on weed management. To meet the performance target we propose to conduct university-based and on-farm research and demonstrations that examine the relationship between cultural practices, abundance and activity of weed seed predators, weed populations and crop yield in sustainable crop production systems. Farmers, extension agents and other agricultural professionals will attend field days and learn first-hand about the opportunities and benefits for EBWM strategies. Target verification and assessment will include a survey of participants to determine how actively they have adopted or promoted EBWM.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of the 500 farmers attending a field day, 25 will adopt some aspect of ecologically based weed Management (EBWM) identified through this research. Of the 100 extension and other agricultural professionals attending field days, 50 extension and other education professionals will incorporate knowledge into their educational programming, and 15 will work with farmers or farm youth to actively promote EBWM.

    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.