No-till, no-herbicide planting of early vegetable crops into winter-killed, low residue cover crops
Posted: June 15, 2011
Following a forage radish cover crop, Kohlrabi was no-till planted without the use of herbicides at a research site in Maryland.
- Wet spring weather can delay planting. Soils are cold and too wet to till.
- Even in a normal year, having the soil prepped and ready can save time and money.
- Winter-killed covers like radish provide numerous benefits, but unlike rye or vetch, they don’t keep soils cold and wet in spring. There is no need to kill them and work them in before you can plant, eliminating the need for tillage.
Forage radish is a unique cover crop that can capture large amounts of nitrogen in fall and release it again early in spring, while loosening compacted soils and effectively suppressing weeds in early spring. In fact, by early spring, the soil after forage radish is essentially weed free, has very little residue, and is drier and warmer and ready to plant earlier than soils under most other cover crops or just winter weeds. View the Forage Radish Extension Fact Sheet.
This new project is designed to see if it is practical to plant early crops directly into this seedbed without tilling it first – and without spraying a burn-down herbicide, either. A few of the questions the project will be asking are:
- Will this work with conventional planters commonly used by small and medium-scale growers?
- Will early crops be able to use the nitrogen released by the radish?
- Will weeds be controllable once the crop is up?
Visit the new project website:
and stay tuned for research and demonstration results!
For more information or to participate in the project, contact Ray Weil (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Natalie Lounsbury (email@example.com) in Maryland or Tianna DuPont (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Charlie White (email@example.com) in Pennsylvania.