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Cover crop roll-down for weed suppression, results from Berea College

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Pretty good field results.... rolling down a cover crop as a method
of weed suppression "with" and "without" herbicides to handle weeds
and cover crop re-growth, to avoid crop competition. The mechanical
roll-down method was just as effective as a one-time herbicide
application. A two-time herbicide application increased yields slightly,
but the extra cost of production did not improve economics.

A research report from the work of Sean Clark and Michael Panciera
at Berea College in Kentucky.

SANET readers who keep track of no-till methods adapted to
organic farming will appreciate this report.


Steve Diver

Cover Crop Roll-Down for Weed Suppression in No-Till Crop Production
Sean Clark and Michael Panciera, Department of Agriculture and
Natural Resources, Berea College
2002 Fruit and Vegetable Crops Research Report,
University of Kentucky

The experiment included three treatments with four replications.
The treatments included:

1. Cover crop roll-down only (no herbicides).

2. Cover crop roll-down followed by an application of glyphosate
(Roundup, 1 qt/A) at corn planting.

3. Cover crop roll-down followed by an application of glyphosate
(Roundup, 1 qt/A) at corn planting  and an application of dicamba
(Banvel, 0.5 pt/A)* and primisulfuron-methyl (Beacon, 0.76 pt/A)*
one month after planting.

*For field corn only; neither Banvel nor Beacon are labeled for
use on sweet corn.

Rye Winter King was planted as a winter cover crop in the entire field
site on October 15, 2001, at 100 lb/A. On May 17, 2002, the rye
was rolled down with a rolling stalk chopper when it reached
the "soft dough" stage (Figure 1). At this time the total aboveground
biomass of the rye was 2.4 T/A.  Plots were established, each measuring
12.7 ft wide and 500 ft long (6,350 ft2), in a randomized block design.

On May 22, corn Pioneer 33Y18 was planted at 19,600 seeds/A
using a John Deere series 7000, four-row planter modified for
high residues (fluted coulter, residue cleaners in front of unit, and
spiked closing wheels) in 38-inch rows (Figure 2).

Herbicide treatments applied, as indicated.

All three treatments were profitable at corn prices ranging from
$2.00 to $2.50 per bushel. The application of glyphosate at
planting did not improve profitability, but the post-emergence
herbicide application did improve profits slightly.

Based on these findings, it appears a cover crop of rye rolled
down before planting can provide effective weed control even
without herbicide applications.

In this study, the herbicide application one month after planting
did contribute to slightly higher yields but did not improve
profitability dramatically.


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