Weed Management
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Weed Management Research

PFI weed management research has focused on the effect of tillage, cover crops and chemicals, and a great deal of this work has used ridge tillage through a SARE-funded project.  The project showed that ridge tillage can be effective in managing weeds, even at reduced or zero rates of herbicides.  Sometimes what you don’t do is as important as what you do when weeds are concerned.  Ridge tillage does not stir the soil ahead of planting, bringing new weed seeds to the light.  After cleaning the ridge top of trash and weed seeds, some ridge planters do not, then create a weed seedbed with a wide press wheel, instead pressing just the crop seeds into the soil and leaving a loose mound of soil over the row.

There is a place for tillage, of course, although there are different views on what that place is.  PFI cooperators have compared tillage systems,  and they have evaluated different methods of rotary hoeing (requires Adobe Acrobat™ Reader) and row cultivation.  A good deal of cover crop research went on in the early 1990s, with the upshot being that cover crops need to be watched carefully that they don’t compete with the row crops.  PFI cooperators Richard and Sharon Thompson have found a manageable way to integrate rye cover crops into ridge-till, and they believe they gain additional weed control from the cover.