Organic Site Preparation Methods: A Comparative Overview

Organic Site Preparation Methods

Pollinators are a priority resource concern for many people, particularly in the organic farming community. Pollinator habitat projects supported by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) cost-share programs, for example, have received tremendous interest and participation from organic farmers. However, since herbicides are often the go-to method for preparing a site for pollinator habitat, farmers interested in organic methods have been left with minimal options and guidance.

To address this, the Xerces Society conducted field trials throughout the eastern, midwestern, and western United States to inform best practices for wildflower establishment using organic site preparation methods. We tested seven organic site preparation approaches: solarization, smother cropping, sheet mulching, repeated shallow cultivation, soil inversion, organic herbicides, and sod removal.

The results of these national field trials were published as the Xerces Society guidelines, Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment, a comprehensive reflection of what we learned about the effectiveness of each weed control technique, combined with the current science on organic weed control and the successes and failures of numerous other restoration projects across the country.

This fact sheet provides a brief overview of the site preparation methods covered in Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment, and is intended to help you quickly assess the suitability of each method for a given site. Download the guidelines for more detailed information on the site preparation methods, including site- and region-specific recommendations, regional timelines, checklists, and other resources

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