On-Farm Research Updates

Rustic Roots Farm – Farmington, ME


After a very wet spring in the Northeast, on-farm research is well under way.  Here’s a quick overview of what we’re up to on farms.

In both the Midwestern and Northeastern US, we’ve partnered with seven organic vegetable farms to see whether weed seedbank management and tool stacking can improve weed management outcomes.  We matched each farm with a stacked tool to try out against their normal (or “reference”) method of weed control.  We also asked them to try out a weed seedbank management method – such as tarping or using a stale seedbed.

Whenever the research beds are cultivated, interns working on the farm record the amount of time it takes to use each tool along with the proportion of weeds and crops killed, and then enters the data into our online dashboard.  There, you can interact with data by filtering data displayed by region, crops, weeds, and so forth.

At the University of Maine’s student farm, the Black Bear Food Guild, the new Wizard vacuum seeder was used to plant carrots.  The Food Guild will be comparing the effectiveness of scuffle hoes (their “reference” tool) versus the Terrateck Double Wheel Hoe (their “stacked” tool).

Fail Better Farm used tarping as their weed seedbank management strategy.  Using tarps to cover soil for 4-6 weeks traps moisture and heat, encouraging germination, but blocks light so that seedlings do not survive.  This effectively reduces the weed seedbank in the top of the soil profile.

Tarping at Fail Better Farm

At Rustic Roots Farm, Erica and Jenny have been trying out the Terrateck Double Wheel Hoe in two plantings of carrots.  It’s been great to have two plantings, because it’s provided many opportunities to try out the stacking combinations.

Jenny at Rustic Roots Farm trying out the Terrateck Double Wheel Hoe with preci-discs and tine harrows

Both Peacemeal and Beech Hill Farms are using KULT Kress’ Next Generation (NG) units.  These units have especially compact parallel linkages so they can be belly-mounted under older offset tractors.

David Levinson testing out KULT Kress NG units in carrot at Beech Hill Farm

Here is Mark Guzzi trying out the NG units at Peacemeal Farm…

…and the results:

Lisa and Ralph at Laughing Stock Farm are trying out rear-mounted KULT Kress tools called Duo units in carrot.

The Duo units use a disc to scribe either side of the crop rows, and side knives to cut away between rows


The parallel linkages are mounted to a HAK steering unit

Most farms have just had their first cultivation events comparing the two tools, so be sure to keep an eye on the data dashboard to see how the tools affect crop and weed mortality, as well as time spent weeding.

Stay tuned!  Soon, we’ll fill you in on a research project that one of the Weed Ecology graduate students, Johnny Sanchez, is conducting comparing tine weeders – everything from rakes to a Williams toolbar with Lely tines.