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Residual effects of crop rotation and weed management on a wheat test crop and weeds

  • Anne Légère and F. Craig Stevenson (a1)

Abstract

Crop rotations, particularly those that include legumes, often result in improved soil quality and crop yields. A study was conducted to confirm the presence and persistence of the residual effects of crop rotation and weed management on a test crop and weeds in three tillage systems (moldboard plow [MP]; chisel plow [CP]; no tillage [NT]). Rotation (spring barley monoculture and spring barley–red clover rotation) and weed management (intensive, moderate, minimum) treatments, initiated in 1987, were terminated, and a test crop of spring wheat was grown in 1995 and 1996. Tillage treatments were maintained throughout. Multivariate analysis showed that weed communities were more affected by treatment termination in the rotation NT treatment with minimum weed management than in all other treatments. The former treatment was dominated by perennial broadleaf weeds but sustained adequate wheat yields (3.3 Mg ha−1) compared with the monoculture (1.0 Mg ha−1) one year after termination. Weed communities in CP and MP plots were less affected by treatment termination. Yet, changes in herbicide use at termination caused the virtual elimination of quackgrass from tilled plots and allowed field pennycress to become ubiquitous across treatments. Residual effects from crop rotation were more important than those from weed management in increasing wheat yields in tilled systems. Differences in wheat yield in NT systems 2 yr after treatment termination were attributed to residual effects from previous weed management rather than from crop rotation. Beneficial effects of crop rotation and weed management may persist for 2 yr but will vary according to tillage system.

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Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Soils and Crops Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2560 boul. Hochelaga, Sainte-Foy, QC, Canada G1V 2J3; legerea@em.agr.ca

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