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50 Ways Farmers Can Protect Their Groundwater
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17. Manage Crops To Compete Aggresively With Weeds

soybean field

When your plants thrive, weeds suffer. So anything you can do to help the crop compete aggressively with weeds will reduce your need for herbicides.

For instance, planting crops such as soybeans in narrow rows makes them much more competitive with weeds than planting them in rows 30 or 40 inches wide. The narrow rows allow soybeans to shade their competitors earlier in the season, reducing weed growth. By providing more surface cover, narrow rows also reduce erosion.

oat field With oats, planting them at 3 bushels per acre, rather than 1. 5 bushels per acre, makes the crop much more competitive with weeds. However, the higher planting rate is not useful if you are planting a legume companion.
farmer in tractor cab Adjusting your planting dates can help you reduce weed damage, but you need to consider the weed. In general, if you're dealing with early-germinating weeds, such as lambsquarters or foxtail, give yourself enough time to control these weeds before planting. You may want to plant these fields last. Just keep in mind that delaying planting too long can lead to a yield loss in corn and soybeans.
nightshade If you're dealing with late-emerging weeds, such as johnsongrass, nightshade, shattercane, or crabgrass, plant these fields first. An early planting will give your crop a head start on such weeds.
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