Our project started with two primary goals: to reduce tillage in vegetable production, and to increase the use of cover crops in vegetable rotations. Building on years of previous research at the University of Maryland, we asked: can forage radish facilitate no-till vegetable planting in early spring without herbicides?
The quick answer is yes! We have found that under certain conditions, no-till planting early spring vegetables without herbicides works just as well or better than the traditional method of planting after spring tillage.
We really are not radish proselytizers, but it is hard to find another cover crop that does all the things radish does that make enable the no-till planting in spring (weed suppression, low-residue, rapid decomposition…). So, a lot of this work has centered around radish. We are in the process of experimenting with other low-residue, winterkilled cover crops like phacelia to see if we can achieve the same effects.
We have also tried to gather other relevant information on harnessing the power of cover crops for no-till vegetable production to address more than just the early season vegetable niche. We are not experts on high-residue no-till, but we have many links for more information.
Ultimately, it will take many different approaches to reducing tillage and increasing cover crop use in vegetable production. We hope this will be a useful resource.
Please feel free to contact us if you have questions or comment on anything on the site.
Thanks for visiting.
Natalie Lounsbury and Ray Weil, University of Maryland Department of Environmental Science and Technology
This project was funded by Northeast SARE.