Partnering to Refine Organic No-Till Production in Wisconsin

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2016: $29,813.00
Projected End Date: 04/30/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Erin Silva
University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • Agronomic: corn, rye, soybeans


  • Crop Production: cover crops, no-till
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: weed ecology
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil microbiology

    Proposal abstract:

    In response to growing market demand, organic farming continues to expand across the US. Organic farmers,however, continue to rely heavily on tillage and cultivation to manage weeds, which can be destructive to soilquality. Through research and outreach partnerships with farmers, this project will further refine the organic no-tilltechnique using cover crops in order to enhance soil quality, improve soil biological processes, and maximizeweed management potential while minimizing the possibility for soil erosion. With on-farm research anddemonstration activities, farmers will be able to use this technique more effectively through improvedmanagement guidelines. The Objectives include: 1) through farmer-designed treatments, evaluate cropperformance and soil quality of organic reduced tillage systems through the measurements of several keyindicators (soil organic matter, compaction, and crop yield); 2) with on-farm field days, promote these soil-buildingpractices to organic farmers; and 3) co-develop outreach materials with farmers, using lessons learned through"on-the-ground" implementation of this technique on working farms. The farms involved in this project areestablished organic row crop farms with a strong commitment to soil stewardship, serving to showcase modelpractices to the target audience of organic farmers through northern IL, WI, MN, and IA.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project will achieve the following objectives:
    1) Evaluate the impact of various fall-seeded cover crop combinations (cereal rye, cold-tolerant field pea,
    sorghum-sudan grass, and tillage radish), terminated through rolling-crimping or cold temperatures, on weed
    suppression, yield, and soil quality of no-till organic corn and soybean (Doudlah Farm).
    2) Evaluate the impact of cover crop termination date and cash crop seeding date on the performance of the
    cereal rye/soybean organic no-till system using the roller-crimper.
    3) Educate farmers across WI, IL, IA, and MN about the technique, through on-farm field days, farmer case
    studies, written and web-based materials, and videos.

    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.