Kansas State University agronomists DeAnn Presley and Anita Dille recently shared their tips for agricultural professionals on how to control weeds and select more efficient cover crops.
Through the use of cover crops, the scientists explained that producers may be able to simplify weed management.
“Living cover crops or a layer of cover crop residues will reduce sunlight reaching the soil surface,” Dille explains. “This will serve to smother and out-compete weeds for light, water, and nutrients.”
Additionally, cover crops can prevent weeds from receiving the moisture and temperatures they need to thrive. Some of them may release chemicals from their roots to inhibit weed seed germination. However, Dille notes that it helps for producers to familiarize themselves with the varieties of weed species.
“To plan for the greatest weed management benefit with cover crops, you should start by knowing when your key weed species of concern germinate and emerge,” she said. “Your goal should be to establish the cover crop prior to that key point in the lifecycle of the weed for most impact.”
Presley also says that growers should know the cost that goes into growing and maintaining cover crops.
“Planting and terminating cover crops may require one or more additional passes through the field, and those costs have to be considered,” she said.
Both scientists encourage producers to seek educational resources on cover crops and weed management before implementing these tactics.