Weed Management and Soil Quality Outcomes of Non-Chemical Weed Control Tactics
Beamer, Kenneth Paul
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In the Northern Great Plains (NGP), weed management within organic systems remains a challenge. Experiments were conducted at two distinct sites in North Dakota to investigate effects of deep mulch no-till (NT) on soil quality indices, weed densities, and weed seedbank densities. We hypothesized that alfalfa mulch no-till and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) inoculant would be associated with reductions in weed densities and improvements to soil quality and vegetable yield. NT treatments were associated with reductions in weed densities and time required for weeding, with improvements in soil quality, such as increased AMF biomass, and yield for snap pea, onion, beet, and butternut squash compared to tilled treatments. Our findings suggest deep mulch no-till using alfalfa residue may be a viable option for small-scale organic vegetable producers in the NGP. Additional research is required to determine costs associated with sowing, harvesting, baling, and applying alfalfa mulch compared to tilling.