Using Multiple Tools to Tackle Weeds in Organic No-Till

Veteran no-tillers use a multi-faceted approach to weed control while transitioning their 4,800-acre farm to organic no-till.

Pictured Above: STRETCH ROLLER. The DeSutter family’s 60-foot roller crimper consists of five I&J Mfg. crimping cylinders mounted on a Harms land roller frame. It was designed to match the width of their 24-row John Deere 1770 no-till planter

Organic no-till. It’s been called the “holy grail” — a system in which farmers can profitably grow crops without relying on herbicides common in traditional no-till or the tillage and soil disturbance endemic to organic production. 

The two farming systems may seem incompatible, as farmers do need to manage weeds one way or another. But strong consumer interest, healthy organic commodity prices and increasingly frequent instances of herbicide resistance have led many no-tillers to seek new weed management solutions. 

Several advances in equipment and technology are making it possible to marry no-till and organic practices on a single operation. 

As long-time conservationists, the DeSutter family of Attica, Ind., — Dan DeSutter and his sons Dylan, Damon and Dalton — has focused on building soil health since Dan’s dad, R.A., began ridge-tilling in the 1980s. Their most recent shift has seen them embrace organic no-till in an effort to monetize on the soil health improvements that have occurred over the years. 

A work in progress, their no-till organic system relies on a multi-pronged approach to weed management that includes cover crops, roller-crimpers, mowing and electrical termination. By embracing these organic tools, they’re advancing their use of regenerative agriculture principles — reducing or eliminating soil disturbance (both chemical and physical), maintaining residue on…

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Julia gerlach web

Julia Gerlach

Julia Gerlach is the former Executive Editor of No-Till Farmer. She has a lengthy background in publishing and a longtime interest in gardening and mycology. She graduated with a B.A. in music and philosophy from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis.

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