MINBURN, Iowa — Weed resistance is an issue most row crop farmers in Iowa have encountered to some degree in their fields, but strategies vary for how to manage the problem. Craig Fleishman, of Cardinal Farm, uses a combination of mechanical and chemical approaches to keep weeds in check in his ridge-tillage system.
“Normally, I try to cultivate everything twice,” says Craig, who farms near Minburn. “Some ridge-tillers have cut back to where they’re just cultivating corn once. If we don’t cultivate as much, then we have to fill in that gap with herbicide. I aim for a 50-50 balance between steel and herbicides, but it’s not always possible to get that balance every year. Some years where it rains a lot, that tips the balance and we don’t get two cultivations.”
In a typical year, Craig says June weather can make it tricky to get into the field when needed. This year, however, he says the lack of rain has been more favorable for mechanical weed control. “There have been more opportunities to get it done.”
The ultimate goal of his approach, Craig says, is to control weeds effectively while reducing the rate of weed resistance. He will share his experience with this approach at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day he is hosting on Wednesday, June 28, from 1 to 4 p.m., near Minburn (17794 Quinlan Ave., about 5 miles northeast of town).
The event – “Ridge-Till, Weed Management and Oat Production” – is free to attend, and will include snacks and refreshments. The field day is sponsored by Grain Millers, Iowa Farmers Union and Prudenterra.
Craig will talk about growing oats on some of his corn and soybean acres, and how he has recently made a push to try to improve yields and test weights on the oats. He will also share his experiences with combining mechanical cultivation with herbicides in his ridge-till system to control weeds effectively. Joel Thomas, of Mid-Iowa Seeds, will also speak during the field day.
“Farmers are interested in weed resistance issues, and what I’m doing is a different way of farming that you don’t see everywhere,” Craig says. “The way I do things is not widely practiced, so this field day will give people perspective on a different system.”
Craig raises corn, soybeans and oats on a Century Farm. Conservation and profitability drive his farm decision-making, and he is working toward a balance between the two goals. Craig has been ridge-tilling since 1981; this system allows him to combine cultivation and herbicides to reduce both tillage and chemical use. Over the last few years, he has included oats into the rotation on some of his corn and soybean ground. He also maintains demonstration strips in a three-year crop rotation on one of his fields.
Directions from Granger: Head west out of town on County Road F31 / 190th Street for 2.5 miles. Turn right (north) on Co Rd R22 / T Avenue and go 1 mile. Turn left (west) onto 180th Street and drive 2.25 miles. Turn right (north) onto Quinlan Avenue; the farm is the first on the right (east) side of the road.
From Minburn: Go north on IA Hwy 169 for 1 mile. Turn right (east) onto 180th Street and go 2.75 miles, then turn left (north) on Quinlan Avenue; the farm is the first on the right (east) side of the road.
Practical Farmers’ 2017 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Ag Ventures Alliance; Albert Lea Seed; Center for Rural Affairs; Fertrell; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); ISU Extension and Outreach; La Crosse Forage and Turf Seed; Lemken; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; MOSA Organic Certification; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Valley / Organic Prairie; Riverside Feeds, LLC; The Scoular Company; Trees Forever; Unilever; University of Iowa College of Public Health (I-CASH); Upper Iowa Audubon Society; USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed & Honey Co.
— Practical Farmers of Iowa
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