Woody mulches will also break down during the season and supply extra organic matter and nutrients to the soil. Biodegradable plastic mulches are also an effective way to control weeds. Finally, if you introduce the right kind of grazing animal into your field during the growing season – one that will eat the weeds instead of the hemp plants – this can not only control weeds but provide organic fertilizer to your field in the form of manure.
Part 2) Reduce Tillage & Implement Alternative Weed Control
Our ancestors brought a wide variety of knowledge from Europe, and one of the most detrimental "pearls of wisdom" they brought with them was the art form of tilling the land. Their thought process was that by tilling, they could "fluff and soften" up the soil, mix in oxygen, and increase water infiltration. It turns out that they were sadly misinformed. Tilling is exceptionally destructive to our land and atmosphere, and also has the following detrimental effects:
• Destroys the Rhizosphere, which is crucial for peak soil function
• Destroys mycelial networks, which bring nutrients to the plant
• Reduces soil organic matter & releases excess carbon into the atmosphere as CO2
• Increases the presence of weeds (contrary to conventional wisdom)
• Decreases water infiltration
While tiling is often seen as crucial for controlling weeds, there are many other, less destructive ways to do so. And in fact, tilling only causes weeds to grow back with a vengeance.
Properly timing the planting and harvesting of a cover crop can do a lot to slow down weed growth. If the field is covered with a dense and diverse cover crop, this crop will typically out-compete common weeds. During the primary planting season, companion crops can be planted with hemp, which can also reduce weed pressure and protect the hemp plant from pests. Mulch is also an effective weed control strategy.
Daniel Enking is the founder of Everflux Technologies. He is a life-long environmentalist and practical dreamer who is obsessed with resource efficiency and imaged an "everything recycling machine" at age 10.