Improving Organic No-Till Systems for Enhanced Soil Quality and Weed Management in Organic Grain/Forage Systems

Principal Investigator:
  • Kathleen Delate, Ph.D.
    Organic Ag. Specialist, Iowa State University
    106 Horticulture Hall, Ames, IA 50011
    Phone: 515-294-7069 · Fax: 515-294-0730
    E-mail: [email protected]


The objectives of the experiment included a determination of the effect of field history related to crop rotation and tillage and how that affected crop germination, growth and productivity, along with soil quality. The Rodale Institute (Kutztown, PA) began experimenting with an Organic No–Till Plus system in 2004, where commercial crops (corn, soybean, pumpkin) were no-till drilled or planted into cover crops that were rolled with a roller/crimper. The roller consists of a large steel cylinder (10.5 ft. wide x 16 in. diameter) filled with water to provide 2,000 lb. of weight. The Rodale Institute supplied Iowa State University (ISU) with a roller in 2005 for experimentation in Iowa.

The crop rotations at this certified organic site at the ISU Agronomy Farm, Boone, Iowa, had been either Rotation 1: spring wheat-winter rye cover crop (2008)-soybean (2009)-oat-hairy vetch cover crop (2010)-corn (2011)-oat/alfalfa (2012)–soybean (2013)–oat/alfalfa (2014)–soybean (2015)–oat/alfalfa (2016); or (Rotation 2) spring wheat-hairy vetch cover crop (2008)-corn (2009)-oat-rye cover crop (2010)-soybean (2011)-oat/alfalfa (2012)–corn (2013)–soybean (2014)–oat/alfalfa (2015)–soybean (2016). Rye was planted as a cover crop on all 2013 corn plots on October 21, 2013, to prepare for the no-tillage system for organic soybeans that would commence in 2014.

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