One of the many problems that every farmer will face are weeds. Weeds can be difficult to manage, especially if you are interested in organic farming practices. You should always try to avoid using harmful herbicides and rather opt for more natural methods. But you might not always know what these methods are.
If you are interested in adopting biodynamic farming, you will need to know how to fight weeds organically. For those who are not sure where to even start with this process, below are some top tips to organically fight weeds on your farm.
Mulching is one of the most popular biodynamic farming methods. It involves covering your soil with a layer of organic matter in order to smother and inhibit weeds. Some of the best sources of mulch include wood chips, compost, grass clippings and even straw.
Another ground cover idea is to put down ground cloth, newspaper, cardboard, old cotton curtains or bed sheets, landscape fabric, or other thick material on your soil to prevent weeds from growing. Be sure that you use organic materials so that you do not add any harmful chemicals to your soil without realising it. You can use large or small wood chips, basing your choice on the size of your crop field.
Creative cover crops
Using cover crops as part of your biodynamic farming methods is an effective way to control weeds. You should shield bare soil with cover crops so that weeds cannot find space to take root and grow.
Annual cover crops also help to prevent soil erosion on your farm. You should invest in low-growing cover crops as these can also become a mulch if they are planted between rows during the growing season. Cover crops such as rye, oats and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids combat weeds by releasing natural weed-suppressing chemicals into the soil. You will soon see that weeds are reduced significantly by using cover crops.
Use no-till methods
Tilling or turning over your soil frequently will only bring new weeds to the surface. You should rather opt for equipment that is close to no-till, and limit the amount of digging that takes place. Disturbing the soil as little as possible is ideal for reducing the number of weeds that grow on your farm.
When planting seeds, only dig down as far down as you need to go rather than tilling up the entire crop bed. This method also increases soil fertility and structure as well as helps to increase the amount of beneficial organisms in the soil. You should do some research to find out the best no-till practices for the type of crops you plan on growing, as the methods could differ according to crop types.
Careful compost monitoring
If you are planning on using compost as a fertiliser, then you will need to monitor continuously and carefully. This is one of the most effective ways to control weeds organically, and it is easy enough to do on a regular basis.
Try not to add any weeds that have gone to seed to your compost pile, unless you plan on turning the pile at least once a week. If you simply dump organic matter onto your compost pile without turning it regularly, then it will not reach 70℃, which is necessary to kill most weeds. This is because the oxygen will not be able to reach the microbes. Keeping your compost weed-free is essential to any biodynamic farming.
Rotate the weeds out
An effective way to get rid of weeds organically is to design your crop rotation to optimise weed suppression. This means that you will need to design a crop-rotation schedule that will effectively suppress weeds at almost all times of the year.
Growing the same crops every year will encourage the same weeds every year. If you rotate your crops, weeds will be prevented from adapting to your farm. You could plan to plant leafy crops for one rotation, legumes for another and root crops for the last. By using crop rotation, you are taking away the weed’s ability to become adapted to your farm, which makes it less likely that they will grow on your land.
Follow nature’s way
Taking care of weeds organically means that you are actively trying to harm your soil less. You don’t have to use harmful chemicals, you can instead use mulch and cover crops to eliminate weeds or invest in a no-tilling method to reduce the number of weeds that can grow on your farm. Crop rotation is a tried and true method, but remember to research any and all methods you choose, as some will differ based on the crops that you want to grow. By allowing nature to take care of weeds rather than using man-made chemicals, your soil will be healthier, more fertile and your crops will flourish.