Organic Weed Control Methods to Start This FallChris Beerman
Farmers can have a hard time dealing with Mother Nature’s fickle whims. She doles out everything from heavy rains, to droughts, to crop strangling weeds.
She can be especially had to deal with for organic farmers, since they can’t use chemical weed killers. But that doesn’t mean they have to stand back and watch as weed infestations wipe out an entire crop.
Rotate, Rotate and Rotate
Weeds grow fast and many of them are perennials, which means they come back year after year. Weeds thrive in certain environments and around certain crops. Rotation helps keep them from taking root and becoming accustomed to the growing conditions.
If you use a field for the same crop year after year, the weeds adapt and get used to the requirements of that crop. Crop diversity keeps this from happening. Don’t plant similar crops in the field either. Use a short season crop like lettuce to prohibit weed growth, and the following year, plant corn or soybeans.
The rotation shouldn’t be random, but instead, part of strong a weed management plan.
Organic Weed Control Starts in the Soil
Weeds are a pain to deal with because they are adaptable. They’re survivors. Crops are less hardy, so they need the best chance from the start. Not all crops are equal, and each has ideal growing conditions, soil acidity levels, etc.
By providing the ideal conditions for your crops, they are able to grow fast and hearty and overcome most of the weeds. If they start in less than ideal conditions, the weeds immediately have an advantage. They adapt and leech the nutrients as the primary crops struggle.
Cultivate and Till
A weed tends to have deep roots, so even when winter hits and freezes the ground, they survive and pop up the next season. Organic farmers have many different tools for their tractors to till and cultivate the weeds.
These tools help them get between the rows and even between the plants to rip up the weeds and take out the roots. While this is a popular method, it does have some risks. Weeds like Johnsongrass are stored in underground structures called rhizomes and come back even after tillage.
These weedgrass rhizomes can grow from pieces of the original. So, if you cultivate or till the weed and cut the rhizomes into many smaller ones, you can get a new weed from each piece.
Knowing your problem weeds helps you determine the proper method of killing them. It also keeps you from making the problem worse.
Bring the Heat
Flame weeding is another organic method of weed control, in which a tractor passes a propane-fueled flame along the rows at walking speed.
You might think the goal of flame weeding is to burn the weeds, but it’s not. The goal is to evaporate the water that the weed uses to survive and thus dehydrate it.
It can damage some crops, but corn and other crops within protected leaf shells can withstand it. It’s great for taking care of small weeds, but will not likely kill perennials. Many kinds of grass and broadleaf weeds also recover.
Organic weed control can’t use the harsh chemicals of mainstream commercial farming, bet there are still several useful methods that farmers who wish to avoid these chemicals can implement.
If you want to learn more about organic farming and what is available to you, then visit our website.