Crop weeds, cultivation and rotation. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

My apologies for getting to this so late. It is by way of being a contribution to Let's talk Amish and pigweed but is a week too late. If the moderators can re-arrange things to make something better than a new thread, please do so.

The original question was about how to cultivate to get rid of weeds in crops. The answer, of course, is not to have weeds in the first place - then everything else is easy ;-).

There are two steps to this. The first is to make sure you don't plant weeds. This means using weed-free seed. The easiest way to do this is to use certified seed grain. This will have been graded to remove "all" seeds except the one it's supposed to contain. It will probably also have been treated with a "pickle" - a powder which is insecticidal, and probably also fungicidal to make sure a new seedling will grow instead of rot. POISON!!! DO NOT eat seed grain. DO NOT feed it to stock. At least in Australia, the "pickle" is by law brightly coloured so that someone who's preserved seed grain can't change their mind and sell the poisoned grain as feed grain for people or animals. If you can't get certified seed, you may be able to find someone who has a seed grader; or in desperation start picking over feed grain by hand.

The next step is to make sure you don't grow (many) weeds with your crop. To whatever extent possible, you ensure this by getting the weed seeds to germinate early, then killing them, before you plant your crop. We used to plough the ground roughly once we had autumn rain, wait two or three weeks (weeds germinate), work the ground more finely (killing weeds), wait one or two weeks (weeds germinate), harrow the ground (finer seed bed, kill germinated weeds), wait one or two weeks (weeds germinate), possibly harrow again, then ultimately sow the crop (which also again killed any germinated weeds at the same time).

Our crops were cereals, and started growth in winter, but made their major growth in spring and ripened in early summer. Some cereals (particularly oats) can be made to "tiller" by either either cutting for hay, or turning sheep in on them for a week or so. Tillering is when a grass plant (say wheat or oats) grows many more stems, so that it effectively becomes a single-plant clump rather than just a few stems. This can help in crowding-out and shading any weeds, as well as growing more grain. With oats, you can just about get hay for free if you pick your time - the extra grain from the extra stems makes up for the set-back in growth from cutting it. Of course, pick your time, and if you're short on moisture then don't cut or feed-off the crop. DON'T graze off with cattle - they wrap their tongue round a clump of vegetation and pull - it either tears off some food (OK), or it uproots the plant (ungood). Sheep just nibble. I've never observed goats on crops, but I assume they'd be pretty much like sheep.

Once you've harvested, turn stock in on the stubble. They'll eat back many summer weeds, and any missed or spilled grain will supplement the straw so that they'll get fair grazing for a couple of weeks.

OK, that's one year. Now keep it up for while. A good plan for crop rotation by year for a single paddock/field would be:

1). Plough pasture and plant cereal. The ground is fairly rich from legumes (clover, etc) in the pasture, so you can use a fairly demanding crop - say wheat or barley.

2). Plant a legume - beans, peas, chick peas, soy beans. You may be able to bale the bean straw, pea trash, etc after the harvest. Otherwise feed it off and plough any remainder in as fertiliser.

3). Plant cereal. The legumes have enriched the soil, so you can plant a gross feeder like maize if you wish.

4). (Optional) Plant a non-greedy cereal, such as oats or rye.

Either in 3) or 4), undersow with clover and grass.

5&6) Two years of pasture, then return to step 1.

All this cultivation reduces the weed population substantially. The crop rotation also avoids or minimises build-up of diseases and soil pathogens. Supplement with manual weeding (walking the paddocks/fields in the burning sun with a hoe in hand whenever you've nothing else to do. This is an excellent way of making sure all those other odd jobs get done, but eventually you'll have to go burr-cutting anyway). With row crops you may need inter-row cultivation; with cover crops you can't do that anyway.

Best wishes.

-- Don Armstrong (, July 14, 1999


Good information. Thanks very much, Don

-- de (, July 14, 1999.

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