The efficient stubble cultivation
Seed catch crops, feed soil life
After harvesting cereals, oilseed rape and peas, etc. in summer, there is often quite a long gap before growing the next main crop (soybeans, maize, broad bean, etc.). This gap is generally used for growing an early catch crop to cover/shade the ground, feed the soil life and promote the active formation of humus and soil. When an early catch crop is grown under good conditions, it quickly establishes dense growth and effectively suppresses any weeds or volunteer cereals that may germinate.
Treat weeds as absolutely necessary measure
On fields with high levels of weed pressure, and especially those with acute rootpropagated weed problems, this gap between main crops can also be used to treat weeds. At this point, it should also be mentioned that it is important to analyse and eliminate the causes of a widespread occurrence of weeds. A weed treatment is more or less extent an acute measure, which primarily combats symptoms without eliminating the actual causes in the long term. (E.g. nitrate leaching in the subsoil, compressed areas of soil, unbalanced levels of nutrients)
Time for the 2nd pass of stubble cultivation
On the second pass of stubble cultivation (usually two weeks after the 1st pass), the working depth should be increased to approx. 10 cm / 4" to destroy any weed seeds that have already germinated and volunteer cereals that have started to germinate, and to achieve the optimum conditions for straw rotting. In doing so, it is important that only the dry soil horizon is cultivated. Patches of smearing or slades should always be avoided, otherwise the pores in the soil close up, which interrupts ground water movement (capillarity). When laying the roots of root-propagated weeds out on the surface, a few days of subsequent dry weather are also required to permanently damage them. In dry weather conditions, the process of laying rootpropagated weeds out on the surface to dry out can be repeated a second time. After treating the weeds, a dense catch crop should be established immediately in order to bind the nutrients released through intensive cultivation and to stabilise the soil structure.
For details on further tillage measures, see the Organic Farming Handbook at www.einboeck.at/en/handbook.