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Influence of chaff and chaff lines on weed seed survival and seedling emergence in Australian cropping systems

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2020

Michael J. Walsh
Associate Professor, Sydney Institute of Agriculture, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Annie E. Rayner
Undergraduate Student, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Annie Ruttledge
Research Scientist, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Leslie Research Facility, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
John C. Broster
Senior Technical Officer, Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries), Charles Sturt University, New South Wales, Australia
E-mail address:


Chaff lining and chaff tramlining are harvest weed seed control (HWSC) systems that involve the concentration of chaff material containing weed seed into narrow (20 to 30 cm) rows between or on the harvester wheel tracks during harvest. These lines of chaff are left intact in the fields through subsequent cropping seasons in the assumption that the chaff environment is unfavorable for weed seed survival. The chaff row environment effect on weed seed survival was examined in field studies, and chaff response studies determined the influence of increasing amounts of chaff on weed seedling emergence. The objectives of these studies were to determine the influences of (1) chaff lines on the summer–autumn seed survival of selected weed species and (2) chaff type and amount on rigid ryegrass seedling emergence. There was frequently no difference (P > 0.05) in seed survival of four weed species (rigid ryegrass, wild oat, annual sowthistle, and turnip weed) when seeds were placed beneath or beside chaff lines. In one instance, wild oat seed survival was increased (P < 0.05) when seed were placed beneath compared to beside a chaff line. The pot studies determined that increasing amounts of chaff consistently resulted in decreasing numbers of rigid ryegrass seedlings emerging through chaff material. The suppression of emergence broadly followed a linear relationship in which there was approximately a 2.0% reduction in emergence with every 1,000 kg ha–1 increase in chaff material. This relationship was consistent across wheat, barley, canola, and lupin chaff types, indicating that the physical presence of the chaff was more important than chaff type. These studies suggested that chaff lines may not affect the survival over summer–autumn of the contained weed seeds but that the subsequent emergence of weed seedlings will be restricted by high amounts of chaff (>40,000 kg ha–1).

Research Article
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Weed Science Society of America

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Associate Editor: Drew Lyon, Washington State University


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