Project Number: 8042-22000-165-02-S
Project Type: Specific Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Sep 18, 2009
End Date: Aug 31, 2014
Develop improved agronomic approaches for terminating cover crops, establishing crops, and suppressing weeds in reduced-tillage, high residue organic farming systems. Evaluate the performance of minimum-tillage organic systems in the long-term Farming Systems Trial.
Component experiments will be conducted by the Coooperator to investigate the following factors for improving and increasing the consistency of reduced-tillage organic systems. First, cover crop mixtures at selected ratios will be assessed for facilitation of cover crop kill, ease of planting and crop establishment, and weed suppression. Second, the timing of planting relative to cover crop kill will be assessed for interactions with the cover crop mixture factor. Third, the spatial distribution of cover crop species relative to planting patterns will be explored. Fourth, rescue cultivation approaches will be evaluated that effectively control weeds with minimum soil and residue disturbance. The long-term Cooperator's Farming Systems Trial (FST) provides a unique opportunity to determine the long-term effects of tillage in organic systems and how they compare to the well-known effects of tillage in conventional systems. The FST has recently been redesigned to include a tillage split (plow tillage versus reduced-tillage) within both the organic and conventional systems. We propose to enhance the capability of the Cooperator to collect data during the next five years at FST in order to more comprehensively determine weed population dynamics and crop performance in these systems. In addition, influences on soil quality and how these changes indirectly affect weed and crop responses to tillage will be determined. This information will be used by both ARS and the Cooperator to develop peer-reviewed publications as well as recommendations for improved no-tillage organic systems that can be distributed through field days, web-sites, and other appropriate technology transfer channels.