Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 27, Number 1, January-March 2007
Page(s) 19 - 27
Published online 29 September 2006
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 27 (2007) 19-27
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2006012

Mechanical destruction of weeds. A review

D. Chicouene

Arbiotech, rue de Saint-Brieuc, Z.A. des Bretins, 35590 Saint-Gilles, France

(Accepted 7 June 2006; published online 29 September 2006)

Abstract - The various methods of mechanical removal of weeds in relation to their biology are reviewed. Depending on the stage of growth and type of weed, i.e. the depth at which new shoots can be formed and the ability to withstand burial, implements inflict damage on weeds in different ways: cutting, burial or uprooting. The various types of damage are exemplified. The three main methods of destruction are analysed and compared. These are: lethal damage, particularly effective in the case of plantlets; the exhaustion of reserves, effective where either deep or surface organs are targeted; and withering, of special interest where sub-surface parts are involved. Stored reserves can be depleted by either cutting the foliage, burying foliar parts or severely cutting up surface organs of propagation. Withering is accomplished by either cutting the roots, by exposing the roots to the air or by shaking out rootlets. It is shown that the kind of damage is strongly dependent upon the type of organ involved. Advances in our understanding of the way in which mortality occurs are discussed in the light of research.

Key words: mechanical weed control / plant / morphology / physiology / withering / exhaustion / reserves / plantlets / rhizomes / creeping roots

Corresponding author: D. Chicouene

© INRA, EDP Sciences 2006