A Butler County farmer recently hosted a virtual field day promoting early-season organic weed control in crop fields.
Matt Miller farms near Bristow, Iowa and has been certified organic since 2000. His current operation is around 1,000 acres, which are split between organic and conventional crops. His organic crop rotation consists of oats, clover, corn and soybeans. During a recent Practical Farmers of Iowa virtual field day, Miller explained how he utilizes autosteer and guidance while using a European tine harrow for weed control.
“I just let the tractor drive down the rows and then I watch out the back window,” Miller said. “I adjust the tension of those springs all the time depending on what kind of soil conditions I have and also depending on what the weed pressure is. If I get to the waterway – you know there is always more weeds in the waterway or along the end rows – I’ll drive slower and I’ll increase the pressure more to really dig those weeds out.”
Miller showed video of various passes of tine harrows and rotary hoes he made through his fields earlier in June. He says the Treffler harrow is uncommon in Iowa, but is starting to gain more attention. When asked about yield estimates, Miller says he aims for 15 percent under what he would get in his conventional fields.
“You turn around on those (soybean) end rows, you smash them down, and so you don’t really realize that those things add up,” Miller said. “Even though you have awesome weed control like you see in this field, smashing down your end rows with your tillage passes can add up. You have to average that all out, so I figure 15 percent less than what I would get for conventional yield.”
Miller was also asked by viewers if the Treffler harrow destroys bean plants.
“I plant at 170,000 which is way plenty,” Miller said. “It doesn’t take out very many, not enough to be significant if you have it adjusted right. If you are going too fast then I think you will damage your soybeans. If you remember from that one video I’m going like 3 miles per hour because I’m watching to make sure I’m not damaging those soybeans.”
A recording of the full hour-long field day can be viewed on the Practical Farmers of Iowa website.