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killing cover crops in no till

 
dan long
Posts: 272
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I'm a little confused about the permie-acceptable method for killing cover crops.

Conventional farmers use rollers then herbicides. They use seed drills to plant into the stubble.

Some choose to use winter kill cover crops. This doesn't work in warmer climates.

Corn and soybeans can be sowed directly into the stubble. I assume this wouldn't work for smaller seeds that need to be sown more shallowly. Do I need to chop it down and rake the stubble out of the bed?

 
R Scott
Posts: 3305
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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chop and drop as mulch in the bed for transplants. For seeds, you need to rake most of it back where you seed and then bring it back over as mulch as soon as they can handle it.
 
Bryan Jasons
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Location: Maine
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I use a scythe for cover crops. A machete for the Maize stalks. You could also trample a cover crop.

It's typical to move mulch out of the way to plant vegetables in a no-till garden e.g. 5:40 - 6:00 in this video :



 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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See the work of Helen Atthowe.

Here is a thread with some videos.

http://www.permies.com/t/33339/plants/clover-vegetables-aware
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I think the "permie acceptable method" is the one that results in a net increase in ecosystem energy stored over time for you and your situation. I chop and drop, cut and carry, and till depending on circumstance.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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i use chickens to get the cover crops pressed to the soil, damaged to the point there is little to no regrowth and manured as well. a mobile coop and mobile fence works very well.

depending on the crop, a scythe works well too. there will be more regrowth this way imo. but as long as your crop gets ahead it smothers the regrowth.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Just to rap on the chicken thing... I've had a stronger suppression of existing veg by adding chickens and mulch. To that end, I have cut an area with a scythe, and then concentrated the cuttings with chickens on a smaller area to shift vegetation to a mulched crop. I think the mulch encouraged the scratching and the continuously moved mulch starves the underlying veg for light.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Sow your seed BEFORE you chop and drop the existing vegetation.

If it's seed that requires light to germinate, remove the mulch until your crop is ready for it.

One alternative that works well in a climate with fairly soggy springs is scorching by weed-torch. These can be fueled just as easily by home-distilled ethanol as by fossil fuels. Note that this is scorching, NOT burning. The point is to apply enough heat to kill the plants by internal boiling, not to chemically alter their structures and send part of them up in smoke.

EDIT: just a reminder if you chose the weed-torch route, be careful to focus the heat into the higher parts of the plants [most winter covercrops get quite tall, thankfully] so you aren't damaging the soil life too much.
 
chad Christopher
Posts: 290
Location: Pittsburgh PA
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I am not sure how big of an area you are gardening. A stomp board works well. And can be built for beds, or larger areas. A board with a sharpened piece of angle iron attacted, with a rope, works like a crimper. But you can cut a little below the stubble, with the sharp edge and human accuracy, it's kinda like a broad fork, turned crimper/cutter. Got the idea from crop circle artists.
http://ufologie.patrickgross.org/htm/cropmarks.htm

http://www.circlemakers.org/tools.html

and a chunk of board, old bed frame, and a method to sharpen it, all cheap or free. If people can make intricate designs, in the dark, over acres, overnight...you could see how fast this works.

And then go back and chop stubborn stubble with a smaller version

http://www.bookofjoe.com/2006/04/throwback_child.html

with a hybrid of

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_12800_12800

Go back through with a wheel hoe with two hill turners outward, to displace mulch and create a seed path. Plant, thin, and then use a soft rake to pull the much back.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1302
Location: Central New Jersey
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Nothing wrong with a crimper-roller. Just a question of scale whether it is appropriate or not. I have seen one built around a 55 gallon drum that was right sized for 4 foot beds. Chop and drop with cutter of your choice, but that rather misses the point of rolling and crimping. The stomp board sounds like a nice small scale tool that serves the crimper purpose.
That kind of cover is not always appropriate, the trick with permaculture is recognizing which approach fits your situation.
 
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