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Weed management by upstate New York organic farmers: Strategies, techniques and research priorities

  • Brian P. Baker (a1) and Charles L. Mohler (a2)


Weed management is a major concern for organic farmers. Strategies and techniques used by organic farmers vary according to crops, soils, climate and other factors. Organic farmers in upstate New York experienced in weed management were interviewed about what weed–crop complexes they face, how they manage weeds, and what priorities they have for research. The interviews were complemented with an all-day focus group conducted with the farmers who were interviewed. All of the farmers interviewed relied heavily on cultural practices, such as crop rotation, fertility management, high-density planting, transplants and the use of cover crops. Mechanical practices were also important for the farmers interviewed. They emphasized selection of the appropriate tools for the situation and techniques for using tools effectively. Most of the farmers interviewed relied on intensive tillage to control perennial weeds. Differences in practices were notable among the farmers interviewed. Several farmers shared innovations both in practices and equipment modification. Farmers identified soil and nutrient management; tillage and cultivation tools and practices; natural herbicides; flame weeding and no-till systems without herbicides as research priorities. Some of the topics suggested for research have already received substantial research attention; identification of these topics by the farmers indicated a need to disseminate research findings through extension materials and demonstration of viable practices.


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