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Separating the effects of crop rotation from weed management on weed density and diversity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 June 2017

Colleen Doucet
Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Harrow, ON, Canada NOR 1G0
Allan S. Hamill
Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Harrow, ON, Canada NOR 1G0
Jianhua Zhang
Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, 55108


Crop rotation is thought to reduce weed density and maintain species diversity, thus preventing the domination of a few problem weeds. Because cropping sequence dictates other agricultural management practices, variations in weed populations between cropping systems may be the direct result of crop rotation, the result of different weed management practices associated with crop rotation, or both. Studies that fail to separate the effects of crop rotation from weed management may generate misleading results. A 10-yr crop rotation study was undertaken to study the dynamics of the standing weed vegetation in Zea mays L., Glycine max L., and Triticum aestivum L. The present paper compared total weed density and diversity between monocultures and rotations under three levels of weed management. Weed management accounted for 37.9% of the variation in total weed density, whereas crop rotation accounted for only 5.5%. Weed density varied between monocultures and rotations in plots where herbicides were applied. The effectiveness of rotations in reducing weed density was dependent upon the crop. Margalef's species richness index (DMG), a measure of diversity, varied among weed management strategies, with 38.4% of the variance attributed to this factor. In the 10th year, when all plots were sown with Z. mays, few cumulative effects of crop rotation were apparent, with two exceptions. In weedy and herbicide-treated plots, weed density was higher on plots cropped with Z. mays the previous year. Also, under these weed management treatments, including a cereal in the crop rotation reduced weed density. Crop rotation, when used in combination with herbicides, provides additional weed control and is therefore an effective tool in integrated weed management.

Weed Management
Copyright © 1999 by the Weed Science Society of America 

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