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Weed density and diversity in a long-term cover crop experiment background
Abstract and Figures
Cover crops (CC) are biological tools with a great potential for weed control, but the suppression level depends on the CC species and management. A 2-year study was performed in the eighth year of a long-term experiment located in Central Spain to study the effect of replacing winter fallow by barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) or vetch (Vicia sativa L.), on the weed control. Moreover, two CC termination dates were evaluated. Weed biomass, density, diversity, population composition and the seed bank were assessed. Ground cover and CC biomass, soil inorganic N and topsoil water content were determined throughout the season. Barley achieved a greater weed control compared to vetch in winter and early spring. Later in May, both CC residues decreased weed density compared to fallow (63% in 2015, 55% in 2016), and reduced the density of some broadleaf species (i.e. Xanthium spinosum L. reduced >50%). The weed seedbank density was not affected by CC but the effect on specific species confirmed the control over Xanthium spp. (78% reduction), and also warned of the incomplete weed control by CC. The year in which the biomass and ground cover increased between termination dates, delaying the CC termination reduced weed density >75%. Therefore, delaying the termination date was a mean to increase weed control but should be performed with caution to avoid pre-emptive competition with the cash crop. Results underline the relevance of CC species and the termination date as management tools for weed control, and must be considered to plan specific management strategies in different scenarios.
Figures - uploaded by María Alonso-Ayuso
All figure content in this area was uploaded by María Alonso-Ayuso
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