Hairy vetch-rye cover crop for suppression of weeds
Four weed management strategies were tested in Ames and Muscatine, Iowa. These strategies included conventional plastic mulch or cover crop mulch combined with hand weeding. Treatments include all possible combinations of plastic mulch, cover crop mulch, and hand weeding either every 1 or 3 weeks. The objective of including a 1- or 3-week hand weeding was to simulate a high maintenance and realistic (i.e. incomplete) on-farm weeding effort required to keep weed competition in check and to limit increases in the soil weed seed bank.
Materials and Methods
Hairy vetch and rye were seeded in eight 30' x 32' plots at each location in September the previous year. In mid-June of 2004, when the hairy vetch was flowering, the plots were crushed using a cultipacker. Four rows were marked out in each plot and 'Athena' muskmelon seedlings were planted into the mulch. Another eight "conventional" plots were established at the same time using pre-emergence herbicide and black plastic mulch. The conventional plots received tillage as needed until the vines touched between the rows. One-m2 weed samples were collected at the time of planting in each plot, and weeds were separated by species and weighed. This type of sampling was repeated once a month until harvest. The number and weight of melons harvested from each plot was measured at maturity.