Increase Weed Control, Decrease Herbicide Use

Controlling weeds while applying less herbicide is topic of PFI field day to be held July 12. Field day July 16 will look at fencing and watering cattle. On July 18 it's using a high tunnel to capture rainwater for irrigation.

Published on: Jul 6, 2011

Increasingly farmers are asking if it's possible to control weeds without use of herbicides, or while reducing the use of herbicides. Practical Farmers of Iowa staff members, along with farmers Craig and Deb Fleishman, are attempting to answer that question in on-farm trials. They will talk about exploring alternative methods for controlling weeds at a field day to be held Tuesday July 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Fleishman farm near Minburn in central Iowa.

The event will begin with a light meal of local foods provided by Pickett Fence Creamery and other local sources. Then Craig Fleishman and PFI staff members will lead a discussion about the widely used herbicide glyphosate, ways to avoid weed resistance to the herbicide and other ways to manage weeds with a combination of herbicides and steel. Craig will also talk about a variety of specific weed management strategies he uses for his corn and soybean rotation. An Iowa State University Extension weed management specialist is also scheduled to talk about this topic and answer questions from farmers.

Discussion will cover several related topics regarding weed control

Topics to be discussed include: ridge-tillage as part of the weed management toolkit; improving weed control and decreasing inputs; the use of herbicides versus tillage; and how to avoid glyphosate-resistant weeds. There will also be a soybean-ridging demonstration.

The overall theme of the event is "Weed Control: A Balance Between Steel and Herbicides." It will be held at Fleishman's Cardinal Farms at 17794 Quinlan Road Minburn, IA 50167. "I'm looking forward to sharing ideas about weed control and different methods I've used over the years so other farmers can avoid making the same mistakes that I've made" says Craig Fleishman. "I hope to show that there is more than one way to get the job done and how cultivation can decrease the amount of herbicide that needs to be used."

Cardinal Farms has 700 acres of row crops, with 60% corn and 40% soybeans in any given year. The farm is located half way between Ames and Des Moines.

Directions to the farm: From Woodward, cross Hwy 141 and head west. Then, curve south on the gravel road (R Avenue). Pass by Picket Fence Creamery. At the T intersection, take 150th west and pass by Lake Robbins Ballroom. Turn left at Quinlan and head south for 2.5 miles. Farm is on east side of the road, just 1/4 mile north of the T intersection at 180th. If you reach 180th, you've gone too far.

Practical Farmers of Iowa and its members are hosting more than 30 field days in 2011. Most field days are free, and everybody is welcome to all of them. For a copy of the 2011 Field Day Guide, you can call the PFI office at 515.232.5661 or down load a printable PDF at http://practicalfarmers.org/events/field-days.html. Following is information on two more upcoming PFI field days.

JULY 16 FIELD DAY: "Fencing & Watering for Beef, Sheep and Dairy"

Dan and Bonnie Beard and family, of Decorah in northeast Iowa, would like to take you on a tour of their organic farm at a field day on Saturday, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You'll learn about their new fencing and watering system for their beef cattle, as well as, their organic sheep and dairy operations. Also, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service staff will provide information on making the transition to organic farming and how to simplify the paperwork required to comply with new organic pasture regulations for ruminants. 

This FREE event, "Fencing & Watering for Organic Beef, Sheep & Dairy, will be held at the Beards' farm, which is Canoe Creek Dairy, 2954 Middle Sattre Road, Decorah, Iowa 52101. This all-day field day will be providing hamburgers and a beverage for lunch, and participants are encouraged to bring a dish to share. 

This is a 160-cow organic dairy with seasonal production. In their dairy grazing system, the Beards are trying to increase pasture rest periods to 40 to 50 days. They have 30 head of organic beef cattle and 140 ewes. The farm has 600 acres in pasture, 300 acres in hay and 150 acres in corn and small grains for feed.

"Most farming is based on a routine. Organic farming is just a different routine," says Harriet Behar, a MOSES organic specialist . "We will be there to give the farmers who attend the answers to their questions and the information they need to successfully make that change from conventional farming to organic."

She adds, "The Beards have a wonderful family farming operation. They will have lots of great ideas for other farmers to take home to use on their farms."

 

Directions to the farm: To beef farm (morning): 5 miles north of Calmar or 5 miles south of Decorah on Hwy 52. Take Union Prairie Road east off of Hwy 52 about 3/4 mile to the dead-end; the field driveway is on the left.

To home farm (lunch and afternoon): 4.6 miles north of Decorah on Hwy 52, turn east on Meadowlark Road, go 2.2 miles, continue across Locust Road. Meadowlark becomes Canoe Ridge Road. Go 1.2 miles, then turn left on Middle Sattre Road and go about 1 mile.

JULY 18 FIELD DAY: "High Tunnels To Capture Rainwater for Irrigation"

Linda and Randy Naeve, Ames, have turned a potential problem, high tunnel water runoff, into a solution for irrigating their vegetable crops. You are invited to tour their farm and learn essential water management skills for high tunnel fruit and vegetable growers at a field day Monday, July 18, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

According to host Linda Naeve, an estimated 1,800 gallons of water run off a 30- x 96-foot high tunnel with each inch of rain that falls. This water tends to puddle around the sides of  a high tunnel or requires drainage. Rather than let water saturate the ground around the tunnel and erode soil or go unused, the Naeves have installed a system developed by Iowa State University Extension specialists to collect rain water and store it for reuse on the crops inside the high tunnel. Although the pump system can be electrically operated, they are powering their pump using solar panels from PowerFilm Inc., a local Ames business. 

The public is invited to attend this FREE event "Using High Tunnels to Capture Rainwater for Irrigation" which will be held at Nature Road Farm, 753 Nature Road, Boone, IA 50036. Snacks and a beverage will be provided. 

"We decided to put gutters on our gothic-style high tunnel at time of construction so that we do not need to do additional drainage work around the high tunnel to accommodate the water runoff and potential puddling," Randy says. "This is definitely an experiment and, like most farm activities, a work in progress."

Nature Road Farm is in its second year of production. It supports a 60-member CSA and supplies a few wholesale accounts. They added a FarmTek. gothic-style, 30' x 96' high tunnel just this summer. 

Directions to the farm: From Hwy 30, 8 miles west of Ames: Turn north on T Ave., which becomes Hwy 17. Continue north 3.2 miles to County Road E26, turn left (west) and go 4.9 miles, along the north edge of Boone. The road curves sharp to the north and becomes County Road R21 (also referred to as Nature Road). Go north a little more than 1 mile. The farm is on the left (west) side of the blacktop, just south of a vineyard.