New technology helps farmers reduce chemical use; The Rodale Institute® receives USDA grant to cut chemicals by cutting weeds
Kutztown, Penn. - A $541,050 federal grant will enable researchers at The Rodale Institute (TRI) to demonstrate how a new spin on old technology could reduce the need for toxic herbicides in American agriculture.
"Our new 'no-till' technology could eliminate the use of 30 million pounds of herbicides every year in the U.S.," said David Ward, vice president of program development for TRI, which has developed a new tractor implement to reduce herbicide use in major crops such as soy, corn and cotton.
According to the USDA Economic Research Service, 52.5 million acres - or 17.5 percent of all U.S. planted cropland - were in no-till management in 2000.
While traditional cultivation techniques leave the soil prone to water and wind erosion, no till systems plant seeds without ripping the soil apart, preventing soil from water and wind erosion. However, the tradeoff has been the application of chemical herbicides to kill weeds that would otherwise be uprooted by more aggressive plowing methods.
TRI's modified no-till technology adds mechanical rollers, which kill weeds by running over them.
Collaborators in ten areas across the United States have agreed to cooperate in demonstrating this technology on farms.
The grant, provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's $14.25 million Conservation Innovation program, will be presented by Deputy Under Secretary Mack Gray on Thursday morning, Sept. 16, 2004, in Harrisburg, Penn.
The Rodale Institute is a not-for-profit educational and research organization committed to sharing information globally about successful agricultural solutions to health and environmental problems. It was established in 1943.
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