Arkansas farmer finds cover crops successfully keep out pigweed

In Delta Farm Press

The dominant soil type on Adam Chappell’s Cotton Plant, Ark., farm is a sandy loam. Chappell is persistent and insistent in trying to make that soil better.

He’s found the main way to do that is the use of cover crops.

“The reason we started in cover crops was we were looking for answers in dealing with pigweed,” says the smart farmer, who’s walking through a 150 acres of cover crop field that will soon be planted in soybeans. “We were getting hammered with pigweeds and spending a ton of money. We were able to control them enough to get crops but it was a steady march backwards.”

The writing on the wall, Chappell “started looking for answers on-line – cultural, tillage practices, anything we hadn’t thought of.”

Chappell ended up finding a video of a farmer in Pennsylvania growing organic pumpkins in standing cereal rye. “What triggered me on the video is the guy was growing pumpkins with no herbicides and they were weed-free. He had cereal rye out there as a mulch to shade out the weeds before they emerged.”

So, in 2010, “we decided to try about 300 acres of cereal rye and planted beans and cotton in it. It ended up cutting our pigweed control costs significantly.” Sure enough, “we were able to control them through shading and that opened things up from there.”

One thing that’s changed since the first cover crop experiment is how high the cereal rye was allowed to grow. “We killed the cover crop earlier than we do now. We didn’t let it get over 12 to 14 inches tall.”

Read the rest of the story in Delta Farm Press.

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