New SARE Video: Ecological Weed Management at the Martens Farm

September 18, 2023

Farmers nationwide are tackling the challenge of using ecological principles to manage weeds using fewer herbicides. Understanding the biology of weeds is key to helping producers adopt innovative strategies that achieve strong yields while adapting to changing consumer preferences. Three new videos from SARE illustrate how Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens manage weeds without chemicals on their 2,000-acre organic grain farm near Penn Yan, New York.

In Ecological Weed Management at the Martens Farm, Klaas Martens explains how careful and flexible crop rotation disrupts the growth and reproduction cycles of pigweed, Palmer amaranth, lambsquarters and velvetleaf, helping his crops outcompete. “This farm has the same weeds everyone else does; it is a matter of degree and distribution,” Martens says.

Blind Cultivation at the Martens Farm addresses how carefully timed and calibrated “blind cultivation” with a tine weeder can control newly germinated, shallow-rooted weeds when the crop is less vulnerable to tillage disturbance.

In Finger Weeders at the Martens Farm, Martens discusses how blind cultivation can create a size differential between weeds and the crop that improves the effectiveness of managing weeds in the row. Martens also demonstrates how skillful driving and a finger weeder can pull weeds from the row while controlling weeds between the rows. “If you want perfectly clean fields, you have to have the cultural practices right. You have to do some blind cultivation, and you have to do a good job with your tool. It’s fatal to take one high tech tool and use it as a substitute for the whole package,” says Martens. 

All videos in this series may be used with attribution for fair use purposes. Other producers featured in the series include:

Cover of Manage Weeds on Your Farm featuring a tractor in a field.

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

Topics: Agronomic, Cultivation, Organic Agriculture, Pest Management, Physical Control, Prevention, Weed Ecology
Related Locations: New York, North Central, Northeast, South, West