Published Jun 21, 2018

Field day will explore mechanical weed control for organic crop production – July 11, near Brighton

By Tamsyn Jones

Caryl Nelsons mom in the soybeans

For Release: June 21, 2018


Nelson Smith | (319) 461-9008 |

Tamsyn Jones | Outreach & Publications Coordinator | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

BRIGHTON, Iowa — For organic row crop farmers, controlling weeds can be a major challenge. Nelson Smith has been successful at farming organically for 21 years by expanding his crop rotation and using mechanical methods to effectively control weeds on his 450-acre farm near Brighton.

“Crop rotation lets you increase organic matter, reduce input costs, access a variety of markets, save on seed costs, break pest and weed cycles, and spread labor requirements over a large period of time,” says Nelson, who raises 300 acres of row crops and 150 acres of alfalfa.

The Smith farm has been certified organic since 1997, and Nelson’s expanded rotation includes soybeans, corn, oats and alfalfa, with buckwheat and rye occasionally added to the rotation.

Nelson will share his experience with organic weed control at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day he is hosting on Wednesday, July 11 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., on his farm near Brighton (1546 305th St., about 4.5 miles north of town).

The event – “Mechanical Weed Control for Organic Crop Production” – is free to attend and will include a light lunch after the field day. RSVPs are requested for the meal to Debra Boekholder, (515) 232-5661 or, by Friday, July 6.

The field day is sponsored by Iowa Organic Association and Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Attendees will learn how a tine weeder and mechanical cultivation can complement each other for effective weed control. Nelson uses a Treffler tine weeder, and will discuss why he prefers this over a rotary hoe. Nelson will also share why longer crop rotations are of utmost importance for weed control in organic crop production.

“We hope attendees will understand the options of different types of cultivation and the timing of effective cultivation,” Nelson says.

Directions from Brighton: Go 1 mile west on IA Hwy 1 / IA Hwy 78 to Fir Avenue / County Road W21. Turn right (north) on Fir Avenue and go 2.5 miles to 305th Street. Turn right (east) and go 0.5 mile; 305th Street dead-ends at the farm.

Practical Farmers’ 2018 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Natural & Organic Meats; Blue River Organic Seed; Cascadian Farms; Center for Rural Affairs; Farm Credit Services of America; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers, Inc.; Green Cover Seed; Green Thumb Commodities; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); ISU Extension and Outreach; La Crosse Forage and Turf Seed; MOSA Organic Certification; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Valley / Organic Prairie; PepsiCo; Pipeline Foods; Premier 1 Supplies; Sunrise Foods International; The DeLong Company; The Fertrell Company; The Scoular Company; Unilever; University of Iowa College of Public Health (I-CASH); USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed & Honey Co.


Practical Farmers of Iowa works to equip farmers to build resilient farms and communities. Our values include: welcoming everyone; farmers leading the exchange of experience and knowledge; curiosity, creativity, collaboration and community; resilient farms now and for future generations; and stewardship of land and resources. To learn more, visit