The feasibility of band spray application in conjunction with inter-row cultivation in no-till corn
The goal of this study was to develop an integrated weed management program for use in reduced-tillage corn production utilizing band herbicide application in conjunction with inter-row cultivation. Also it was our intent to further evaluate the efficacy and usefulness of specific preemergent and postemergent herbicide treatments suitable for use within this systems approach to weed management, and finally to test this technology under grower conditions using field scale equipment and large research plots. The results of this study show that shallow cultivation between crop rows is very effective in providing control of weeds in these areas. Cultivation alone did not have a significant effect on crop yield. When cultivation was used, the low recommended herbicide rate provided equivalent weed control and yield to the higher recommended rate of herbicide, both when the herbicides were broadcast overall and when they were applied in a band over the row. These results show that one inter-row cultivation was satisfactory. Most preemergent and postemergent herbicide treatments tested performed very well. Of the thirty treatments evaluated, only two treatments failed to provide consistent commercially acceptable weed control. Those two treatments could only be faulted one year out of three years of testing. The large scale field trial was the ultimate test of the technology. Results show that crop yield was virtually unaffected by cultivation. Weed control was maintained at a high level, well above commercially acceptable standards, and the technology was easily adapted to large scale field operations. Soil disturbance was minimal, crop residue remained on the soil surface and the shallow layer of disturbed soil did not erode. The farmer involved, and project manager, was quick to point out that the combine at harvest in damp conditions may tend to slide out of the undisturbed row area, particularly on side hills; in stoney conditions the cultivator may roll stones into the row area; and that root pruning could be a problem if the operator allowed the cultivator to penetrate too deeply. Also he noted that herbicide usage was reduced by 60% and weed management costs were reduced by 40% when this technology was applied to his general farming operation. Growers can apply this concept immediately if they wish. All they need is the appropriate equipment. The herbicide treatments are currently registered for use.