Seeds are sown by humans; weeds by God.
As this saying shows, it really is difficult to compete with weeds while farming. De-weeding becomes a back breaking process without smart planning.
Weeds will suck up most of the nutrients from the soil in any available form and some weeds will make their own by using soil, air microbes, sunlight and water as solvent. Weeds can also be beneficial for other crops during the same harvest cycle or when it decomposes.
In some soil only weeds grow well.In such cases leave the land as is and let weeds take control for a year or so. Then let weeds dry out and use as a compost to grow other crops, it will also help soil to retain moisture and other microbes.
Weeds will only grown on a surface where there is soil leaching from rains or irrigation. Nature has designed everything in a beautiful way.
If there is dry mulch cover over your farm then weed growth will be negligible or non-existent . Clean only the area where you plan to plant.
Dried natural mulch stops weed growth
Let’s see how to control and make best use of weeds.
- Mulch: Yes you need to cover every bit of your land to control weed. Practically it becomes difficult onbig farms. Use dried weeds, coconut leaf, straw, dried leaves, cardboard boxes. Practically anything that is organic and will decompose easily.
- Live mulching: This is also one of the best ways however snakes and other pest thrive and most farm labors will hesitate to enter your property.
- Goats: Yes goats are natures best way to control weeds. They will and do practically eat anything in this world. From thorny shrubs to poisonous leaves. But with vegetable crops they can cause destruction. Coconut, coffee and other estates can use them to clear weed and also make money by selling their offspring’s every six months. Cow is not ideal here as they are bulkier and farm layout is constrained. They also avoid most weeds especially thorny ones.
- Drip irrigation: Yes drip irrigation is good which doesn’t lead to unwanted weed growth unlike sprinklers. However weed growth with sprinklers can be used as mulch for plants. Water wastage is too much with sprinklers. Scythe is the best to cut grass compared to rotating motor in case you have grass and dull weeds.
- Underground Irrigation: Yes you can irrigate plants underground with drip pipes so there is no weed growth at all near the crop.
- Coconut Fiber Mats (Weed Mats): Fiber mats can be layered on the ground and cut out can be made for plants to grow. With this you can also use sprinklers there will be no weed growth. It should be cheap and after few cycle it will mix in soil and become humus.
- Planting pattern: Plant crops close to each other so there is no space for weeds to outgrow. Sunlight and water availability will bring many doormat weed seeds to life.
- Burning weed: Yes fire is destructive and kills myriad of organisms. But it’s a good way to keep weed under control. And once turned into ash it revitalizes the soil. When waterfalls over ash there is new life. I used to be pessimistic about this. However “How does flies and micro organism come to a fallen fruit immediately out of thin air” Burned forest blooms very well which is documented. Burning is hundred times better than using synthetic chemicals to get rid of weeds.
- Weed seed control: Thumb rule is never let weed plants to establish their seeds, keep thinning as and when you see flowers drying out or depending on the weed pattern. Some weed seeds will stay in the soil for 5 to 10 years so keep continuing your work. Also try removing the weed in initial stages when they are weak. At least lop of their crowns which hold all the seeds if you plan to keep the weeds for live mulching.
Weed killer Gyposulphate (Roundup)
Never use weedcide as they are really dangerous. Disastrous effects are slowly coming out. Gyposulphate (Roundup) they are cheap but can be counterproductive in the long run and carcinogenic effects are emerging now.
None of above methods may work for you. Some regular vigilance and learning is required for controlling weed.
Thank you for the very informative article. I would like to know how can you control weeds in a rubber plantation (about 1 acre)?
I feel rubber is almost always weed free as hardly anything under it grows. Most rubber planters use a creeper. Which can go out of control if you don’t monitor. However i have seen the soil improves tremendously.
This reminds me of a chapter from One Straw Revolution. Thanks Anoop for putting together such a well composed article. 🙂
Thank you Anusree.
My cows eat almost every type of weeds that grow on my farm
Will this habit effect the flavour of the milk
Yes its good. All that herbs energy and nutrients will pass onto the milk.
Yes if cows have sandalwood and few other leaves their milk will be bitter.
sir—-i am working with chennai based company and we have launching some farm related products soon.if you have any info please help me.details of biggest farms in kerala.how i will get this details.any type of farms coconut tree farm.goat farms.cow farms.chicken farms.the big one only.please help me
hi.i need full details of biggest farms in kerala.how i will get this details.any type of farms coconut tree farm.goat farms.cow farms.chicken farms.the big one only.please help me
Namaste Anoop and thanks for your informative blog.
I am keeping some goats as a hobby but want to do some vegetable farming. I have a little piece of land (only 30 cents) so hesitate to start my dream work. Your experience has given some inspiration to me.
Awaiting more blogs from you.
With best wishes and regards.
Thank you. Sure I am finding it difficult to manage everything. But will share more info when I find time.
Sure go a head and be self sufficient, even try little paddy and pulses in the fields. You will be amazed by the quality. Traditionally people didn’t farm to earn money but they only had that option. Today we have all the facilities but still we are reluctant.