Researchers Test No-Till Alternatives for Terminating Cover Crops


One limitation faced by small- and mid-scale organic producers is the expense of equipment such as roller crimpers to terminate cover crops for spring planting. In spring 2017, OFRF provided a grant to Justin Keay at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri to research an effective no-till system that doesn't require the use of expensive equipment.

Keay and his team are working with Green Gate Family Farms to develop a no-till system based on a fall-planted hairy vetch/rye mix with four different termination methods: (1) crimper rolled, (2) solar killed, (3) flail mowed, (4) sickle bar mowed, and (5) black plastic mulch on tilled soil (control). They will quantify the effects of these methods on soil health, arthropod communities, weed suppression, and yield in a summer squash production system, and provide economic analyses to determine the viability of each production system.

The research team will share their results through a workshop, field day, farm tour, and presentations at local and regional growers’ conferences to increase the level of knowledge on the benefits of using cover crops as part of a no-till system to minimize weeds, fertilizer inputs, and arthropod pests, and lead to increased profitability.

Research results will also be shared through OFRF’s online database. Read more about the project here.