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Agriculture 2017, 7(4), 33; doi:10.3390/agriculture7040033

Organic Agriculture and the Quest for the Holy Grail in Water-Limited Ecosystems: Managing Weeds and Reducing Tillage Intensity

1
Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8003, USA
2
Western Agricultural Research Center, Montana State University, Corvallis, MT 59828-9721, USA
3
Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717-3120, USA
4
Department of Animal and Range Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717-2900, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Patrick Carr
Received: 5 February 2017 / Revised: 27 March 2017 / Accepted: 29 March 2017 / Published: 31 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage for Organic Farming)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1332 KB, uploaded 31 March 2017]   |  

Abstract

Organic agricultural production has become a major economic and cultural force. However, in water-limited environments the tools used for weed control and nutrient supply, namely tillage and cover crops, may not be environmentally or economically sustainable as tillage damages soil and cover crops use valuable water. Thus, a major challenge has been finding appropriate ways to minimize tillage and terminate cover crops while still controlling weeds and obtaining cover crop ecosystem services. One approach to achieve this is through the economically viable integration of crop and livestock enterprises to manage weeds and terminate cover crops. In this article we (1) review research needs and knowledge gaps in organic agriculture with special focus on water-limited environments; (2) summarize research aimed at developing no-till and reduced tillage in organic settings; (3) assess approaches to integrate crop and livestock production in organic systems; and (4) present initial results from a project assessing the agronomic and weed management challenges of integrated crop-livestock organic systems aimed at reducing tillage intensity in a water-limited environment. The goal of eliminating tillage in water-limited environments remains elusive, and more research is needed to successfully integrate tactics, such as cover crops and livestock grazing to increase organic farm sustainability. View Full-Text
Keywords: cover crops; crop-livestock integration; no-till; northern Great Plains; reduced tillage; weed management; zero till cover crops; crop-livestock integration; no-till; northern Great Plains; reduced tillage; weed management; zero till
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MDPI and ACS Style

Lehnhoff, E.; Miller, Z.; Miller, P.; Johnson, S.; Scott, T.; Hatfield, P.; Menalled, F.D. Organic Agriculture and the Quest for the Holy Grail in Water-Limited Ecosystems: Managing Weeds and Reducing Tillage Intensity. Agriculture 2017, 7, 33.

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