Weed Management for Small-Scale Growers

February 27, 2023

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Abby Harper. And I'm Naim Edwards. We're with MSU Extension here at the Tollgate Farm in Novi.. And today we'll be talking about weed management techniques as well as identifying specific weeds found in Midwest agriculture. As a small farmer, weeds can take up a large amount of your time, and finding practical solutions that don't require excessive machinery or other inputs you might not be comfortable with can be a really important strategy to support your farm profitability. We will also be covering weed prevention, some hand tools that are often used in weed management. Sounds good, let's go! Now, one of the best tools in your weed management toolbox is weed prevention. How do you prevent weeds from coming up in the first place? One really great tool for this is occultation, or tarping, which you can see behind me. Some folks also use solarization, which is with clear plastic. But this method basically suppresses light and air circulation and prevents weeds from growing in the first place. The benefit of this is once you remove the tarps after a certain period of time, the weeds haven't germinated underneath or if they've germinated, They've already died back. So you can easily just do a light tillage on the surface, not have to plow deeply or use heavy machinery and can start with a very clean we'd met solarization work similarly just with clear tarps instead of the dark plastic that you see here. Usually this is a practice you might want to use for a field that you're going to leave fallow for a period of time either because the seed pressure, the weed pressure has gotten so, so that it's not feasible to really cultivate that any effective measure. Or is a field that you might not cultivate to later in the season to prevent weeds from germinating before you're ready to you. Sophie, look underneath here, you can see that the tarp has killed that the majority of what was growing underneath and any of this residual comes up pretty easily just with a hand or with another hand tool. What they hear is made sure to weight it down with whatever material they had around. So these are some old agriculture YouTube. You can see some pipe just to make sure the tarp stays in place and the wind doesn't pick it up and carry out elsewhere. So it's doing a pretty effective job here. Similar to occultation and using a tarp to chill early emerging weeds. Here a tollgate, they're using hope these fabric and a plastic mulch to keep weeds down the entire growing season. So rather than simply cover the soil before planting, they use this fabric in this mulch and simply cut holes in it for the plants to come through. Once the soils covered, it essentially permanently prevents weeds from going through that material. So these are materials you can leave in place to keep weeds down. Also reduce the amount of materials needed by leaving the aisles open. Enough spacing to simply run a lawnmower up and down the aisle. Wild weeds are being suppressed near the plants. An alternative to plastic mulches is an organic mulch like what chips or strop that serves a similar purpose of suppressing week? Well, however, it is slightly more permeable and it's plastic counterpart. So you can be especially around the base of the tree that there's still some pressure that the benefit of that provide that same water retention and suppression of that black plastic mulch does. But it's an organic material that's decompose over time and add organic matter. Once we've emerge and you're growing space, there are a number of hand tools that can be utilized to manage and kill them. All of these tools are valuable because they take stress off of your body. Make work-life and read management a lot easier than nearly on the ground and pulling them with your hands. We'll start with these wire clothes. And a lot of these tools also have that handheld version. If you want to work more closely until the ground. Wire holes are valuable for working in tight spaces and also with more delicate plants. Perhaps seedlings are really young weeds. And we'll show you how to use all of these in the field is flipped. Here we have colinear WHO and the trapezoid bow there. If we're working with a little more mature weeds. And also they come in different sizes for depending on plant spacing is Field List harp before planting on which means that we already got ahead of the weed pressure a little bit and prevented many from germinating. Now we're going to use are or how here are collinear WHO? And I'm choosing this over the trapezoid 0 because the roads were spaced, that allows for a longer length. And we're just going to very thoroughly scrape the surface and not knock back anyway that have germinated to get a really nice clean that doesn't with that are planted here. Next. Pose also different sizes depending on spacing started holes are really valuable for more mature weeds. They have like a double-edge blade for cutting thicker brush. Habeas. Beauty of them all is a wheel WHO we'll holes are really valuable for breaking outside and also removing some of the densest or thickest stems feeds. There are a variety of methods producers can use to manage weeds without chemical inputs. Choosing appropriate tools can impact your farm productivity and profitability. In addition to maintaining your physical health, select methods appropriate for your intended goal. Methods like occultation and solarization can be used to create still see beds, while others, including hand tools, plastic fabric, organic mulch, effectively manage weeds during production. Regardless of your chosen method, a comprehensive weed management strategy is an essential tool for your farm success.