Nicole Tautges1, Jessica Goldberger2 and Ian C. Burke2, (1)Washington State University, Rogers, MN (2)Washington State University, Pullman, WA
Weed management varies widely in frequency and intensity among organic farms, and weeds are frequently cited as a main issue for growers producing organic field crops. However, information on organic weed management tactics available to organic growers is scarce relative to the resources available to conventional growers. As interest in organic agriculture increases, it would be beneficial for researchers to gain an understanding of what practices are currently being used, and the degree to which integration of weed control tactics is possible on organic farms. A survey of organic producers was conducted in the northwestern U.S. to identify which weed control tactics are being used by organic growers, and what operation and demographic characteristics are associated with those weed management decisions. The survey was limited to small grains, forage, and livestock producers in the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Washington State. Growers who produced primarily horticultural crops were excluded from this survey to gain an understanding of weed management decisions in a large, field-scale context. Three types of weed management programs that differed in diversity of control measures were identified using cluster analysis. Greater farm size, number of crops produced, and rotational diversity were associated with increased weed management program diversity. Age and education level were also associated with weed management intensity and the use of cultural weed controls. When asked about their information needs, growers reported the control of perennial weeds in organic systems to be a top research priority. Increased awareness of the differing needs and abilities of organic growers in managing weeds on their farms will improve communication and knowledge regarding the design of weed management programs for organic operations.