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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Defining Agroecological Principles and Developing Sustainable Practices in Mid-Atlantic Cropping Systems

Location: Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory

Title: Rolled cover crop mulches for organic corn and soybean production

Authors
item Reberg-Horton, Chris -
item Mirsky, Steven
item Spargo, John -
item Grossman, Julie -
item Kornecki, Ted
item Webster, Theodore
item Price, Andrew
item Meijer, Alan -
item Place, George -

Submitted to: Weed Technology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: October 15, 2013
Publication Date: November 1, 2013
Citation: Reberg-Horton, C., Mirsky, S.B., Spargo, J.T., Grossman, J., Kornecki, T.S., Webster, T.M., Price, A.J., Meijer, A., Place, G. 2013. Rolled cover crop mulches for organic corn and soybean production. Weed Technology. 8:38-41.

Interpretive Summary: Interest in a cover crop-based approach to reduced-tillage organic grain production has increased out of both economic and soil conservation concerns. The number of tractor passes required to produce corn and a soybean organically is expensive, labor intensive, and logistically challenging. Farmers currently use blind cultivators, such as a rotary hoe or flex-tine harrow, two to five times, followed by two to four between-row cultivations. Repeated cultivations can be extremely effective but are highly sensitive to weather. During wet springs, cultivations are missed, leading to weedy fields. We have developed an approach that reduces tillage in organic grain production. In this book chapter, we have outlined the key components to this production system including special attention placed on cover crop management, crop establishment, and weed and fertility management. There are few, if any, agronomy guides in the country providing information on cover crop-based organic no-till crop production. This book chapter will be a resource for farmers, agricultural professionals, and supplementary material for educators.

Technical Abstract: Interest in cover crop mulches has increased out of both economic and soil conservation concerns. The number of tractor passes required to produce corn and a soybean organically is expensive and logistically challenging. Farmers currently use blind cultivators, such as a rotary hoe or flex-tine harrow, two to five times, followed by two to four between-row cultivations. Repeated cultivations can be extremely effective but are highly sensitive to weather. During wet springs, cultivations are missed, leading to weedy fields. Soybeans are particularly troublesome when blind cultivations are missed. In this chapter, we review a cover crop-based approach to reducing tillage in organic grain production with special attention placed on cover crop management, crop establishment, and weed and fertility management.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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