Our lab’s interest in this tactic is to assess the impacts of strip cultivation on weed stand and biomass, soil quality, pest insects, and beneficial insects. Preliminary data collected in our lab suggests that strip cultivation may be a good choice for conventional growers seeking to reduce their herbicide costs and potentially improve soil quality. This project is being run in collaboration with Professor Ron Perry of the MSU Department of Horticulture. This research was inspired by work done by Professor Ian Merwin of Cornell University and preliminary work funded by the Michigan Apple Committee.
Our work in this area is funded by a EPA PRIA2 project titled: “Demonstration of strip cultivation to reduce herbicide use in north central and northeastern perennial fruit production.” We are presently in the second year of the project. Brad Baughman is the M.S. student leading this project and is working in both apples and wine grapes. More information on this project can be seen in our project posts below.
Here is a talk I gave at a grape grower meeting at SWREC last week. We talked about our experience with strip cultivation in apples and how it might be applied in juice grapes. You can download a copy of the presentation here!
During the summer of 2010 we initiated a new project exploring strip cultivation at three orchards in Michigan. Each orchard had a different standard weed management practice. The orchard located in Flushing MI was managed with strip cultivation already, the orchard in Charlotte MI was managed using preemergent herbicides and the orchard in Sparta MI was managed using burndown herbicides. We chose a block within each orchard and alternated tilled and untilled rows. We then took monthly measurements of weed coverage, an end of season measurement of weed biomass, monitored and plant nutrients, and measured the incidence of mites in the trees. In 2011 we are planning on testing the tactic on larger orchard blocks and measuring insect and disease damage.
Here is a poster presenting our preliminary results.
American Fruit Grower did a write up of this project that can be viewed http://www.growingproduce.com/production/organic/?storyid=4954.
A web presentation on the project can be viewed at http://www.growingproduce.com/gptv/?vid=236.
This project was funded by the Michigan Apple Committee.