Agronomy Journal (2013) 105, 1728-1734

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Dilshan Benaragama and Steven J. Shirtliffe (2013)
Integrating cultural and mechanical methods for additive weed control in organic systems
Agronomy Journal 105 (6), 1728-1734
Abstract: Effective weed management strategies are limited in organic cropping systems because herbicide use is prohibited. Enhancing crop competitive ability by integrating both cultural and mechanical weed control methods is a key strategy in such instances, but the relative efficacy of different cultural and mechanical strategies and their interactions and additive effects when combined is not well known. The objective of this study was to determine the individual and additive effects of cultural and mechanical methods on weed suppression and crop yield under organic conditions. A study was performed in two organically managed oat (Avena sativa L.) cropping systems in Saskatoon, SK, Canada, in 2008 and 2009. Three cultural practices, two crop genotypes (competitive and less competitive), high and standard crop densities (500 and 250 plants m-2), narrow and standard row spacings (11.5 and 23 cm), and two post-emergence tillage levels (harrowing and nonharrowed control) were factorially applied in a randomized block design. Increasing crop density and harrowing increased grain yield by 11 and 13%, respectively. Competitive genotype and high crop density reduced weed biomass by 22 and 52%, respectively. Combining high crop density with post-emergence harrowing increased the grain yield by 25%. The combined treatment effects on weed biomass were more profound, as the competitive genotype, increased seeding rate, and post-emergence harrowing decreased weed biomass by 71% compared with standard practices. Integrating cultural and mechanical weed management practices was superior to the use of individual practices because they additively control weeds in an organic cropping system.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
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