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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Abdul Baki, Aref
item Teasdale, John

Submitted to: Journal of American Society of Horticulture Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The conventional method for the production of snap beans requires excessive tillage for weed control. The numerous tillage operations compacts the soil and subject it to excessive erosion. We developed an environmentally friendly, low-input, no-tillage system for growing snap beans. The system uses hairy vetch as a cover crop. The vetch is then mowed to form a mulch, and snap beans are seeded into the mulch. In contrast to the conventional system, the no-till hairy vetch system does not require any cultivation and the hairy vetch provides most of the fertilizer requirements of the snap beans. Yields in the no-till hairy vetch system averaged 38% higher than those in the conventional system. Furthermore, the hairy vetch system reduced soil compaction and erosion, improved soil organic matter content and water holding capacity, and the mulch provided nutrients and suppressed weed growth. Users of this research are: all conventional and organic vegetable growers, home gardeners, extension specialists, faculty of horticultural sciences and environmentalists.

Technical Abstract: A three-year study was conducted at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, Md, to evaluate plant stand, growth and yield of snap beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), cvs. Carlo and Matador grown with conventional tillage (CT) or with a no-tillage hairy vetch [HV (Vicia villosa Roth.)] mulch that we developed. Plant stand and dry mass of both cultivars in CT were similar to those in no-till HV. However, snap bean plant leaf area and yield with no-till HV were significantly higher than those with CT. The results of three years of experimentation showed that the no-till hairy vetch production system overyielded the conventional tillage production system by 38% at no additional production cost. The no-tillage hairy vetch system is environmentally friendly. It eliminated tillage, stopped soil erosion and run-off, reduced soil compaction, reduced the need for fertilizer and pesticides, and improved soil tilth by adding organic matter.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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