Understanding the biology of weeds is key to managing these troublesome pests using ecological principles. Cultural practices such as crop rotations and cover crops paired with smart cultivation have helped many farmers successfully manage weeds while reducing or eliminating herbicide use.
In three new videos from SARE, Shakera and Juan Raygoza share their experience controlling weeds on their organic radish farm in Edinburg, Texas. Ecological Weed Management at Terra Preta Farm, Basket Weeders at Terra Preta Farm and Hand Tools in the Market Garden at Terra Preta Farm describe how the couple successfully managed weeds without herbicides as they transitioned from a small vegetable farm to a wholesale production system.
In Ecological Weed Management at Terra Preta Farm, the Raygozas explain how cover crops and basket weeding are used to control stinging nettle, guinea grass and other weeds organically. “We aren’t using the chemicals, so that aligns with our values of protecting the environment, the soil and the land,” says Shakera. Crop rotation, mulch, hand hoes and flame weeding are used to control weeds in the smaller-scale market garden side of the operation.
Basket Weeders at Terra Preta Farm focuses on the Raygoza’s investment in a soil-safe basket weeder to control weeds in their wholesale radish operation.“ The first time we tried it, it really changed our game here. It has saved us a lot of time and money and we have a better crop,” says Juan.
Hand Tools in the Market Garden at Terra Preta Farm shows how a smaller scale market garden operation can utilize wheel, stirrup and other hand hoes to manage weeds in closely spaced rows. Flame weeding is used to dehydrate and suppress weeds quickly and efficiently. “The type of tool you use really makes a difference,” says Juan. “We don’t want 100% control here in the garden, just decent enough so that the weeds don’t steal a lot of nutrients.”
All videos in this series may be used with attribution for fair use purposes. Other producers featured in the series include:
- Johnson Farms, Madison, S.D. (corn and soybeans)
- Burroughs Family Orchard, Denair, Calif. (almonds)
- The Martens Farm, Penn Yan, N.Y. (grains and legumes)
The Manage Weeds on Your Farm Video Series is a companion to SARE’s Manage Weeds on Your Farm, a definitive guide to understanding agricultural weeds and how to manage them efficiently, effectively and ecologically. Manage Weeds on Your Farm shows you how to outsmart your weeds by identifying the right tactic for the right weed at the right time, which will reduce as much as possible the labor required, while ensuring your weeds don’t impact crop yields. Download your free copy or order it in print today at www.sare.org/weeds.