He estimates that growers can save about $75 per acre using strip cultivation.
Grieshop’s team had the best results with the Wonder Weeder tillage implement made by Harris Manufacturing of Burbank, Wash.
It tills the top couple of inches of ground cover back into the soil. He does not recommend using a rototiller.
Jim Koan, owner of AlMar Orchards in Flushing, Mich., has used strip cultivation in about two-thirds of his organic apple orchards for 10 years and says he sees improvement in the soil profile every year.
He has not calculated precise monetary savings. But he says, anecdotally, the process saves him “a lot of money” compared with the herbicide strips he used when he grew conventional apples.
Short term, strip cultivation eliminates weed competition and knocks out pests, he says. Long term, it improves soil fertility and water-holding capacity.
Strip cultivation works best with high-density plantings, Koan says.
The practice also can help growers concerned about how using the popular herbicide glyphosate repeatedly may adversely affect their land and weed populations, Grieshop adds.