Interrow cultivation and intercropping for organic transition in dryland crop production systems
CSANR Project 120
Protecting wheat during the transition to organic production and managing soil nitrogen during the organic production phase represent major impediments to increasing organic acreage. We have developed a system that incorporates weed control and the use of a pea intercrop as a source of nitrogen to address these impediments by intercropping winter pea with winter wheat, and view the system as viable transition and production tactic. We intend to apply for an USDA-OTS or USDA-OREI grant to develop the system further, and view the BioAg support as seed money for that effort. This grant addresses all four priority areas as set forth in the RFP. Our continued objectives are: 1) Determine what time of year to mechanically remove a legume intercropped with wheat to provide the greatest amount of N to the crop. 2) Assess the utility of an interrow cultivator for precision weed control and to remove an intercropped legume.
Additional Funds Leveraged
Funds to finish this study will be provided by Small Planet Foods.
Impacts and Outcomes
Short-term, modifications to equipment have impacted the possibility of intercropping being viable on a field scale. Though the inter-row weeding cultivation needs improvement, pea mow down using sweeps between the grain rows was very effective. Organic and conventional growers alike could benefit from the viability of this practice. A few organic small grains growers have already adopted inter-row weeding operations similar to this system and achieved good results. Intermediate and long-term impacts include advances in soil improvement and nitrogen delivery to organic systems. Outreach could result in increasing grower income through organic grains by providing information on an organic transition system that has a lower financial burden for the producer while providing the fertility for a productive system following the transition. Results of this study also indicate that the practices of intercropping and planting forage triticale can reduce weed pressure and contributions to the weed seed bank during a period when weed pressure is usually quite high.