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Eric Gallandt, associate professor of weed ecology and management at the University of Maine, has had Maine farmers comparing the "Weed Master," a glorified wheel hoe from Finland, with other methods of mechanical weed control. Here, Gallandt stands in a field of onions at Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont during one of MOFGA's Farm Training Project meetings. Jean English photo for the Fall 2009 edition of
The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

Articles

In weed control tests conducted on six plantings of field corn over two years, corncob grit was applied by compressed air, analogous to sandblasting. The blasting was aimed at weeds growing near the bases of corn plants, with treatments varying from the one- to five-leaf stages of corn growth.

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A Montana Farmers Union pilot program trained cattle to eat Canada thistle by giving them a variety of feed grain pellets or flakes, in a trough or feeder (not on the ground), and providing the chopped weed once the cattle were accustomed to new tastes and textures.

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Studies at the Vegetable and Forage Crops Production Research Unit in Prosser, Wash., have shown that 1 to 2 tons of crushed mustard seed meal applied per acre without herbicides significantly reduced early weeds in potato fields.

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Weed-free lettucesPeacemeal Farm in Dixmont, owned by Mark Guzzi and Marcia Ferry, was once a haven for weeds. When the couple took over the certified-organic farm in 2000, said University of Maine weed ecologist Eric Gallandt, it had 35,000 germinable weed seeds per square meter; that number is below 5,000 now. Methods for controlling weeds organically were covered at Peacemeal at a MOFGA Farm Training Project workshop in mid-June, attended by 75 MOFGA apprentices, journeypeople and others.

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Free download publication from the University of Maine.

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Agricultural Research Service (ARS) studies suggest sinalbin and other compounds released into soil by applying white mustard seed meals can kill or suppress some weedy grasses and annual broadleaf weeds.

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A study in Weed Science reports that weed seed destruction and predation are practical alternatives to the use of herbicides to manage weeds.

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WeedsThe most important distinction between organic and conventional growing is that organic growers have replaced inputs, whether organic or conventional, with management skills. This is easy to see with insect and disease management, but it is also important with fertility and weed management.

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Guide helps conventional and organic field corn growers decide how to control weeds using chemical and nonchemical methods.

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Three MOFGA growers – Matt Williams, Dave Colson and Rob Johanson – told a large, enthusiastic audience about their organic weed control methods at a MOFGA-sponsored talk at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show in Augusta in January.

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An ecologist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Urbana, Ill., is trying to enlist birds, rodents and insects to help fight giant ragweed, velvetleaf and giant foxtail, major pests of Midwestern corn and soybean crops. Adam Davis’ approach is to create a natural ground cover of red clover in farm fields so that the small critters will spend more time foraging for the weeds’ energy-rich seeds and less time dodging hawks or other sharp-eyed predators.

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To control small-seeded weeds such as pigweed and purslane, grow a crop of rye, cut it and let it sit on the ground as a mulch.

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Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have found that vinegar may be a potent weedkiller that is inexpensive and environmentally safe – perfect for organic farmers.

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Boosting organic matter in soil creates a healthy environment for soil-dwelling bacteria that suppress weeds, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. They report that to create ideal soil conditions, farmers should rotate their crops, reduce tillage and minimize herbicide applications.

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Certain plants, when grown in combination, enhance each other’s growth, repel insects, and increase fruit production. Called “companion planting,” the idea has always intrigued me. So every spring I carefully map out a garden plan complete with successive plantings and companion plants neatly pencilled in. Along with my usual beans and greens, I order packets of seeds for plants with long Latin names I can barely pronounce. By July my garden bears no resemblance to those carefully drafted plans neatly tucked into my garden notebook and languishing beneath a pile of stuff accumulating on the hutch.

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