Organic No-till Soybeans
In most soybean production systems weed management is either through herbicides if conventional, or cultivation if organic. The goal of this project is to test a method of growing soybeans that uses neither tillage nor herbicides for weed management: a rotational no-till cover crop based system. Soybeans are planted into a roller-crimped rye or barley cover crop. This system uses 27% less diesel fuel and 31% less labor than tillage-based systems.
We planted rye, barley, and mixtures of barley and rye at three different ratios in 2012-2014 at our Musgrave research farm. We measured the amount of light penetrating the cover crops while they were growing, to see if a difference in the amount of light would influence weed growth. We quantified cover crop biomass production in the spring and then rolled the cover crops into mulch with a roller-crimper. For weed management after soybean planting, the cover crops were cultivated in three different ways: high-residue cultivation, chisel plow (standard plow practice), and no-till (no cultivation at all).