The increased adoption of conservation tillage and organic weed control practices in vegetable production requires more information on the role of various cover crops in integrated weed control, tomato quality, and yield. Two conservation-tillage systems utilizing crimson clover and cereal rye as winter cover crops were compared to a conventional black polythene mulch system, with or without organic weed management options, for weed control, tomato yield, and profitability. All cover crops were terminated with a mechanical roller/crimper prior to planting. Organic weed control treatments included: 1) flaming utilizing a one burner hand torch, 2) PRE application of corn gluten, 3) PRE application of corn gluten followed by flaming, or 4) intermittent hand weeding as needed. A non-treated control and a standard herbicide program were included for comparison. The herbicide program consisting of a PRE application of S-metolachlor (1.87 kg a.i./ha) followed by an early POST metribuzin (0.56 kg a.i. /ha) application followed by a late POST application of clethodim (0.28 kg a.i./ha). In general, high-residue clover and cereal rye cover crops provided substantial suppression of Palmer amaranth, large crabgrass, and yellow nutsedge. Across systems, minimum input in high-residue systems provided the highest net returns above variable costs compared to organic herbicide treatments that are costly and provide marginal benefit.
Part of the book: Organic Farming
Previous research has indicated that conservation tillage is a viable option for successful peanut production; however, interactions between cover crop residues and peanut growth are not fully understood. Additional information is needed about the effects of varying levels of cover crop biomass on peanut growth and development. Level of cover crop residue may also affect the preemergence herbicide activity through interception and efficacy of weed suppression. The objectives of this peanut research were to determine if varying amounts of cover crop biomass would affect peanut growth, herbicide interception, or weed control. This research also aimed to determine if cover crop management practices (rolling or standing cover) would affect herbicide interception rates. The study consisted of a rye (Secale cereale L.) cover crop planted at three different dates as well as a fallow treatment at two locations: Dawson, GA, and Headland, AL. Pendimethalin was applied PRE at 1 kg ai/ha across the entire area just prior to planting of the Georgia 03-L peanut variety. Soil samples were collected at three different dates after planting for high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis to determine pendimethalin levels. Peanut yields differed only between location regardless of cover crop residue level with the Headland, Alabama, site averaging 4,272 kg/ha and the Dawson, Georgia, site averaging 2,247 kg/ha. Pendimethalin extraction from soil samples indicated no difference in herbicide recovery between winter fallow systems compared to treatments with cover crops. Weed control ratings taken at 21 and 45 days after planting (DAP) showed greater weed suppression for cover crop systems for an extended period of time when higher levels of cover crop biomass are present. Results of this experiment indicate the inclusion of cover crops in a conservation-tilled peanut system can be a successful alternative to winter fallow systems without reducing peanut yield or herbicide efficacy.
Part of the book: Herbicides