Cultivating partnerships: Building Farm-research Networks for Improved Physical Weed Control

Project Overview

ONC17-025
Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2017: $25,595.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2018
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Daniel Brainard
Michigan State University

Information Products

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Crop Production: cropping systems
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Pest Management: cultivation, integrated pest management, physical control, weed ecology
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships

    Abstract:

    Weed management represents a major barrier to sustainable production of both field and vegetable crops in the NC region.  Conventional growers face increasing pressures to reduce herbicide use and address herbicide resistance. Organic farmers often rely on expensive hand-weeding that reduces profitability.  Advances in material science and engineering have resulted in new tools and techniques for physical weed control (PWC) that can help address these constraints and simultaneously improve profitability and environmental health in the NC region.  These tools have begun to hit the market, but growers need guidance on which tools to purchase and how best to integrate them into their cropping systems.  The primary goal of this proposal was to foster partnerships between growers and researchers in the North Central (NC) region to improve understanding and adoption of efficient, low cost PWC tools.  To achieve this goal our project objectives included: 1) broadening understanding of new PWC tools and techniques through conference participation, farm-tours, and on-farm testing; 2) sharing existing knowledge of state of the art PWC equipment and techniques through a one-day workshop; and 3) developing videos and factsheets to summarize and disseminate innovations to a broad grower audience. A team of farmers and university researchers travelled together to Switzerland in April 2017 to document innovations in PWC from both farmers and manufacturers.  During the 2017 growing season, tools and techniques from Europe were tested on-farm, and demonstrated at the full day “Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day”.  Video footage from these activities was compiled to produce three 20 minute videos focusing on in-row mechanical cultivation with finger weeders, torsion weeders and flextine cultivators.  Our work has identified and demonstrated best practices for these tools and has provided North Central farmers with important tools and techniques for improving the efficiency of their weed management.  The farm-industry-research network developed through this project has gained strength and additional funding through various sources to continue building on the work initiated with this project.  We anticipate that adoption of these innovations will improve profitability and quality of life for many growers in the region. 

     

    Project objectives:

    Our project objectives included: 1) broadening understanding of new PWC tools and techniques through conference participation, farm-tours, and on-farm testing; 2) sharing existing knowledge of state of the art PWC equipment and techniques through a one-day workshop; and 3) developing videos and factsheets to summarize and disseminate innovations to a broad grower audience.

    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.