Weed control is one of the biggest concerns we hear from transitioning farmers, but it can be done. According to one organic consultant, Gary McDonald, it all boils down to specific management; not necessarily ‘good’ management but ‘specific’ management. The difference? The ability to see the whole picture, realizing it’s a series of small tasks that can take your year from a miserable failure to a smashing success.
This first year transition field is owned by a family who resides in the state of Washington, but is located in central Illinois near Springfield. When the owners couldn’t find anyone to bring their vision of organic ground to life, Gary stepped up. Gary said it’s more than helping some fellow land owners out; it’s proving to the whole world that a farmer can navigate through the 3-year transition period with ease. Truth is, you can have weed-free fields in organics and at the end of the day have something you’re immensely proud of.
Weed control is much more than weed control. It begins day one when you decide to farm without modern chemistry. If you wait until you see a weed, you’ve totally missed your chance. Game over. It’s too late. But if you take the appropriate steps before the weeds show up, you’ve greatly increased the chances of conquering the beast. While weed pressure will vary from field to field, the level of weed control success on any one field boils down to how we interact with the soil biology and mother nature. This field soaked in 24 inches of rain in 5 weeks this spring, leaving only 2 days to get all the cultivation done. Gary said he waited until he killed several flushes of weeds before he planted beans with good emergence. The seeds were treated with humates to help with quick emergence. Gary noted quick emergence can make all the difference, even when that seed may only emerge one day sooner. He then used our Residuce®, which Gary feels really strengthens the biology in the soil.
All in all, Gary believes there is something beyond science that is making all the difference. After 35 years, he’s seen farmers do all things right according to science, but still end up with compromised weed control. Then he sees farmers that add a little faith to all the right things, and that can make the difference between success and failure in many cases, he says.