Comparing Hairy Vetch Cultivars and Termination Methods for Strip Tillage Vegetable Production

Strip tillage is a method of cultivation where strips are prepared for planting while residue of the previous crop is left undisturbed in the between row zones. This system improves soil health and often results in equal or higher yields when compared to bare ground systems. The use of common hairy vetch (HV) (Vicia villosa) as a fall planted cover crop in strip tillage systems can significantly reduce the need for additional N fertilizers, offsetting the high cost of fertility sources. The late maturation of common HV leads to late planting dates of the cash crop, however, alternative earlier maturing cultivars of HV are available. This research will compare maturation dates, cold hardiness, N fixation, and weed suppression ability throughout the season between ‘Common” HV and the earlier maturing ‘Purple Bounty’ HV, as well as between three termination methods, being the use of herbicide, a flail mower, or a roller crimper. This research will demonstrate to Maine growers the feasibility of strip tillage in Maine, while determining the suitability of an earlier maturing HV cultivar that has the potential to fix more N, therefore saving input costs for farmers, and allowing earlier planting, all while improving soil health.

Investigators: Jason Lilley

Award period: 5/1/2016–9/1/2017