I get asked a lot about how organic farmers control weeds without the use of herbicides. (And with the rise and spread of herbicide-resistant weeds, the issue is on the mind of many conventional farmers, too.) Some naturally assume that in the absence of herbicides, hand-weeding or deep tillage, along with all the drawbacks of each of those methods, are the only remaining options.
Here, I’ve done my best to list all of the weed control strategies available to farmers. Not every one of these options is available to every farmer, of course – much depends on the crop type, the environment, the weather, and the scale and resources of each farm. By the same token, many farmers will use some of these tools without really thinking about them because they are integrated into best management practices to achieve a number of goals.
Farmers who successfully reduce or eliminate herbicide use are those who consider all the options and incorporate as many strategies as practical into their farm management systems. Which ones have I missed mentioning?