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Propelled abrasive grit applications for weed management in transitional corn grain production

  • Mauricio Erazo-Barradas (a1), Claire N. Friedrichsen (a1), Frank Forcella (a2), Dan Humburg (a1) and Sharon A. Clay (a1)...

Weed control is challenging to farmers who are transitioning from production systems that use synthetic herbicides to organic systems. A 2-year field study examined air-propelled corncob grit abrasion for in-row weed control efficacy and effect on corn yield. Grit was applied based on corn vegetative developmental stages with one (V1, V3 or V5), two (V1 + V3, V1 + V5, or V3 + V5), or three (V1 + V3 + V5) applications. Flame-weeding or cultivation was used after the V5 application for between-row weed control. Grit applications decreased in-row weed densities by about 60% (α = 0.05) and biomass up to 95% (α = 0.001). Between-row treatments provided similar control, and reduced weed biomass by 55% in 2013 (α = 0.01) and 86% (α = 0.001) in 2014. In-row grit treatments increased corn yield up to 44%, and yield was more influenced by in-row weeds than between row weeds. These results indicate that abrasive corncob grit for in-row weed control, supplemented with cultivation or flaming, can reduce weed biomass substantially and help maintain corn yield. However, timing and frequency of grit application need further refinement based on weed growth as influenced by climate, as treatments at similar corn growth stages did not consistently provide adequate weed control between years.

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Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems
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