Organics: Machinery Innovations for Organic Weed Control
Posted by Dani Kusner on June 13, 2018
For farmers who are transitioning into organics from conventional farming, their number one concern is likely weeds. Since herbicides are prohibited under the National Organic Program, organic farmers have historically managed their weeds with tillage.
Throughout this year’s sustainable and organic meetings, there was a lot of discussion about different options for organic weed control other than tillage. Today we are going to talk about three options. If you haven’t heard of these options before, they’re each worth more exploration; as more research and innovation seeks to solve weed challenges in organic production, this is an exciting time to be an organic or transitioning farmer who will benefit from these continued technological advancements.
Older – Organic No Till: Roller Crimping
While roller crimping is new to some people, it has been around the longest. A roller crimper is a farm attachment (Figure 1) where the blades break the stems of the plant while rolling the plants over to create a matt of residue over the field. This residue can then be planted into, and it acts like a weed barrier. The Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, under Jeff Moyer, as well as Dr. Erin Silva at the University of Wisconsin, are two leading proponents performing research with this tool. Here is some yield data from Dr. Silva’s no-till research plots.
Figure 1: A roller crimper is a farm attachment where the blades break the stems of the plant while rolling the plants over to create a matt of residue over the field.
Newer: Flame Weeding
Professors at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have done research on flame weeding to better understand it as a viable option for organic weed control. Flame weeding is a process of applying heat to kill plants. The research was presented at the American Society of Agronomy’s meeting in October 2017. Read the full overview article here: https://www.agronomy.org/science-news/dry-weeds-keep-crops
Newest: Equipment Company to Develop Solutions for Organic No Till
This January, Dawn Equipment company CEO, Joe Bassett, announced that he is starting a new company, Underground Agriculture, to design equipment specifically for organic no till production. While the company is still very new, Underground Agriculture, is the nation’s first company that will be solely dedicated to manufacturing machinery to manage weeds in organics.
The future is bright for organic weed control when researchers like Dr. Erin Silva, industries like Dawn Equipment, and innovative farmers who are building their own tool bars and experimental equipment come together to share their successes and failures in order to develop best-practice strategies for organic weed control in row-crop systems.
We at The Andersons look to support you in your transition to organic with current information on machine and equipment solutions that can help you in organic weed control. For more information about organic transition, please contact email@example.com or 419-891-2785.
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Dani Kusner has worked in biological and organic farming systems since graduating from the University of Dayton with a Bachelor of Science in sustainability studies. She worked at the Rodale Institute and consulted with growers in both Canada and the United States. Dani worked for The Andersons from 2016-2021 and is still an active advocate and resource for organic growers.
For more information about The Andersons' Organic Program, visit AndersonsOrganics.com.