Conservation tillage systems are an important method for adapting to climate variability as they reduce erosion, soil water loss, and fuel use, while improving soil and water quality. For these reasons, conservation tillage is widely promoted by NRCS, promoting resilience to extreme precipitation and drought events. Cover crops used in these systems can also serve as grazing land.
Though conservation tillage systems have been increasing in popularity across the country, glyphosate-resistant weeds are threatening their success as many farmers shift to high-tillage practices to bury the seeds. Southeast Farm Press highlighted this trend in an article this week, but also provided some alternatives to high-till for controlling glyphosate-resistant weeds such as Palmer amaranth pigweed, Italian ryegrass, and marestail. There are alternatives to high-till systems, however. ARS weed scientist Andrew price noted the importance of starting clean by using an effective burndown treatment, moderate tillage, or irrigation to allow crops to be competitive with weeds. Price and his fellow scientists are also “working with extreme cover crops, residual herbicides, and timely post-emergence herbicides. All of these can be used effectively to help with controlling glyphosate-resistant weeds.” For more information on how to control weeds within a conservation tillage system, check out the Southeast Farm Press article, or contact your local NRCS agent.