Annals of Applied Biology (2017) 171, 340-352
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How do weeds differ in their response to the timing of tillage? A study of 61 species across the northeastern United States
Annals of Applied Biology 171 (3), 340-352
Abstract: Previous research has demonstrated that the season in which soil is tilled (spring versus fall) can strongly influence weed community assembly and subsequent species composition and abundance in annual cropping systems. Despite this understanding, it is unknown whether finer-scale, within-season variation in the timing of tillage has similar impacts on weed community assembly. We conducted an experiment on four research farms across the northeastern USA to test the effects of tillage timing on weed emergence periodicity. Soil was tilled at 12 different times that were 2 weeks apart from 29 April to 30 September (the entire growing season) and the composition and abundance of the weed seedlings that emerged was measured 6 weeks later. Weed species clustered into three tillage timing groups at the two New York locations and clustered into five tillage timing groups at the New Hampshire and Maine locations. Individual species associated with each window of tillage time varied by location. No single trait or combination of traits were consistently associated with species-by-tillage time groupings across locations; however, within each location several traits were associated with particular groups of species, including: (a) seed length, (b) seed weight, (c) cotyledon type, (d) life span, (e) ploidy level and (f) photosynthetic pathway. These results suggest that fine-scale variation in the timing of tillage can lead to predictable changes in the species composition and trait distribution of weed communities in annually tilled agroecosystems.
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