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Varying tillage promotes weed diversity, while a perennial alfalfa–grass mixture promotes weed control in an organic tillage system experiment in Germany

Grosse, Meike; Haase, Thorsten and Heß, Jürgen (2021) Varying tillage promotes weed diversity, while a perennial alfalfa–grass mixture promotes weed control in an organic tillage system experiment in Germany. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 36 (5), pp. 465-476.

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Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Document available online at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1742170521000053


In organic farming the control of perennial weed species, in particular Cirsium arvense, can be a major concern for farmers, especially if there is no regulation through perennial forage production. To test whether the stubble cleaner (SC), an enhanced skim plow (PL), is as effective
in the control of C. arvense and other weeds as conventional ploughing and perennial forage production, an organic field experiment was established. Three different tillage/crop rotation systems were compared: an SC system and a PL system, both in a cereal-based crop rotation and an additional PL system in a crop rotation that included a perennial alfalfa–grass mixture (PLALF). In the SC system, tillage was carried out solely with the SC, while in the PL and PLALF systems, ploughing was alternated with chiseling. In the fifth year, each main plot was divided into subplots, and seven different cover crop treatments were integrated into each of the three systems. The effects of the three systems and the cover crop treatments on weed cover and density, weed biomass, and weed diversity in the sixth and seventh year of the experiment are the subjects of this paper. The choice of cover crop species was of minor importance for weed control. The PLALF system was generally more effective in controlling C. arvense than the PL and SC systems. No significant differences between the PL and
SC systems regarding the control of C. arvense could be identified in four of five assessments. The SC system had significantly higher total weed density than the PLALF and PL systems in both years. However, the differences in weed emergence between the PL and SC systems diminished until the assessment of weed cover and biomass in the main crops, when no significant differences between these two systems (2012) or no differences at all (2013) could be identified. Species richness was not significantly influenced by the tillage/crop rotation system in both years. Evenness and Shannon–Wiener index were significantly higher in the PLALF
and PL systems than in the SC system on most assessment dates in 2012. In 2013 there was no clear trend regarding evenness and Shannon-Wiener index probably due to a hoeing operation. In conclusion, for weed control, the choice of crop rotation was more important than the choice of tillage method, while for the diversity of the weed community, the choice of tillage method was more important than the crop rotation.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Reduced tillage, perennial alfalfa-grass, perennial field experiment, cover crops, TILMAN-ORG, Abacud, FiBL10047
Agrovoc keywords:
cover plants
ploughing depth
stubble ploughs
weed control
Subjects: Crop husbandry > Crop combinations and interactions
Crop husbandry > Production systems > Cereals, pulses and oilseeds
Crop husbandry > Soil tillage
Crop husbandry > Weed management
Research affiliation: European Union > CORE Organic > CORE Organic II > TILMAN-ORG
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Soil > Tillage > Reduced Tillage
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Crops > Crop protection > Weed control
Related Links:https://www.fibl.org/de/themen/projektdatenbank/projektitem/project/412, https://www.tilman-org.net/tilman-org-home-news.html
Deposited By: Grosse, Dr. Meike
ID Code:39718
Deposited On:30 Sep 2021 12:35
Last Modified:30 Sep 2021 12:35
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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