ROLLER-CRIMPING ALTERNATIVE. To terminate cover crops without herbicides or with fewer herbicides, growers can either roller-crimp or mow. Mowing between the rows, as seen in the photo, also allows no-tillers to get in their fields after the cash crop is up and growing.

Deploy Cover Crops to Drop Your Herbicide Use

Steve Groff shares how planting green into a thick, tall stand of cover crops can help keep troublesome weeds under control while significantly reducing herbicide use.

What would you do if you couldn’t use glyphosate?

That was the question posed to Steve Groff by a French farmer he was visiting.

It wasn’t a scenario Groff had seriously pondered. Despite his long commitment to no-till, his immediate thought was that he might have to do some tillage.

While it may seem like an interesting thought experiment for some, for others it could one day be reality. Paraquat is already illegal in the European Union, and some European countries are beginning to ban glyphosate, too.

While glyphosate may remain legal in the U.S., it is losing its effectiveness, with herbicide resistance becoming a growing global problem. And it’s pushing farmers to find alternative ways to control weeds.

One effective strategy? Cover crops. Especially when paired with a roller-crimper. 

In fact, Groff turned to roller-crimping cover crops in the mid 1990s on his farm in Holtwood, Pa., to cut back on Roundup, which cost $40-50 per gallon at the time.

Whatever the reason a no-tiller may have for wanting to move away from herbicides or lessen their reliance on them, a good cover crop practice is likely part of the solution. Groff shares some real-life examples of how effective this practice can be and offers practicable tips on how to make it a successful strategy for your farm.

Work with Nature

To combat weeds, we first need to understand why they’re present in the first place. 

“Weeds are really nature’s way of trying to cover the soil,” Groff says…

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Laura allen

Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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