Weed management is another organic farming methods utilized by farmers in cultivating food crops naturally. Weed control is one of the natural components of pest control that makes use of various methods in preventing the weeds to reach their maturity stage where they can become harmful to food crops and livestock. Although chemical weed killers are being introduced in the farming industry, organic gardening and farming strictly adheres to the natural way, which is manual removal of weeds.
The Use of Weed Management
Natural weed management upholds weed suppression than elimination through enhancement of phytotoxic effects and crop competition on the weeds. Farmers incorporate physical, biological, mechanical, cultural and chemical means in managing weeds without the introduction of synthetic and harmful substances.
Organic farming requires the need of annual crop rotation, which means that a single food crop should not be grown in the same location. The process of crop rotation includes the application of cover crops like green manures in order to prevent the formation of weed life cycles. Aside from crop rotation, there are other practices that can be utilized in order to promote crop competitiveness and prevent weed formation, such as high-density planting, crop varieties, late planting and tight row spacing.
Common Practices on Weed Management
There are physical and mechanical weed management practices that are practiced in organic farming. These practices are grouped into the following:
- Mowing and cutting – the traditional way of removing grown weeds.
- Tillage – this method follows the practice of turning the land among crops in order to place crop residues and pH amendments, prevent weed growth and create a seedbed for planting new crops.
- Mulching – preventing weed growth with the use of blockages such as organic materials, landscape fabric and plastic films.
- Flame or thermal weeding – this method makes use of heat in killing weeds.
Aside from these methods, there are some natural chemicals like acetic acid, essential oils and corn gluten meal that are allowed to be used in organic farming for natural herbicidal use. Nevertheless, these organic herbicides are only utilized discreetly in removing weeds. Also, weeds can be prevented through grazing. The use of livestock like geese and pigs has successfully prevented weed in a wide variety of food crops. Also, there are some rice farmers that initiate taking care of fishes and ducks in the paddy fields to remove weeds and other crop-eating insects. Indeed, weed management is one of the efficient methods in organic farming.