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Agriculture 2017, 7(5), 44; doi:10.3390/agriculture7050044

A Decade of Progress in Organic Cover Crop-Based Reduced Tillage Practices in the Upper Midwestern USA

1
Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1630 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706, USA
2
Departments of Agronomy and Horticulture, Iowa State University, 106 Horticulture Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Patrick Carr
Received: 6 March 2017 / Revised: 1 May 2017 / Accepted: 3 May 2017 / Published: 7 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Tillage for Organic Farming)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [705 KB, uploaded 7 May 2017]   |  

Abstract

The organic industry continues to expand in the United States (U.S.), with 14,093 organic farms in 2014. The upper Midwestern U.S. has emerged as a hub for organic row crop production; however, the management of these organic row crop hectares heavily relies on tillage and cultivation for weed control. Faced with the soil quality challenges related to these practices, and cognizant of the benefits of conventional no-till practices, organic farmers have shown significant interest in the development of Cover Crop-Based Reduced Tillage (CCBRT) techniques to lessen soil disturbance while achieving successful weed management. To serve this farmer interest, significant research efforts have been conducted in the upper Midwestern U.S., focused on systems-based practices to ensure adequate suppression of weeds, through a combination of agronomic and cover crop species and variety selection. Within this review article, we discuss the agronomic successes that have been achieved in CCBRT using a combination of cereal rye and soybeans, resulting in consistent suppression of weeds while providing fuel and labor savings for farmers, as well as the continued challenges that have persisted with its implementation. Continued investment in research focused on cover crop breeding and management, optimization of CCBRT equipment and fertility management, and a greater understanding of rotation effects will contribute to the further expansion of this technique across organic farms. View Full-Text
Keywords: organic agriculture; cover cropping; reduced tillage; ecosystem services; USA organic agriculture; cover cropping; reduced tillage; ecosystem services; USA
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Silva, E.M.; Delate, K. A Decade of Progress in Organic Cover Crop-Based Reduced Tillage Practices in the Upper Midwestern USA. Agriculture 2017, 7, 44.

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