Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 29, Number 2, April-June 2009
Page(s) 401 - 408
Published online 18 February 2009
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 29 (2009) 401-408
DOI: 10.1051/agro/2008061

Effect of cropping systems and crop rotations on weeds

Alireza Koocheki1, Mehdi Nassiri1, Leila Alimoradi2 and Reza Ghorbani1

1  Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, PO Box 91775-1163, Mashhad, Iran
2  PhD student in Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran

Accepted 31 October 2008 ; published online 18 February 2009

Abstract - Dynamics of weed populations in arable fields are influenced by environmental and soil characteristics and also by cropping system and management practices. Manipulation of cropping systems to improve weed management requires a better understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of weeds, seed losses and seed production. To assess the effect of different cropping systems and various crop rotations on the weed population and seed bank, we conducted a field study at the experimental farm in Khorasan Agricultural Research Center, Mashhad, Iran. The experimental design was a split plot with 3 crop rotations as the main plots, and five cropping systems consisting of high-input, medium-input, low-input, organic and integrated systems applied to the sub-plots. Our results show that weed seed densities in organic and integrated cropping systems, of about 5000–6000 seeds/m2 were higher than conventional and high-input cropping systems showing about 2000 seeds/m2. Weed seed density in continuous winter wheat of approximately 6300 seeds/m2 was higher than other rotations with about 5000 seeds/m2. Weed composition in the high-input system was 11 species with 66 plants/m2. Whereas in the low-input and organic systems, the weed populations were 15 and 13 species with 145 and 220 plants/m2, respectively. Changes in weed seed bank density and species composition often occur when crop management practices and crop rotations are altered. For example, continuous winter wheat fields showed more annual grass weeds, but broadleaf weeds were more abundant in sugar beet-winter wheat rotation. The weed population in continuous winter wheat plots comprised 90% grass and sedge weeds, while in sugar beet-wheat rotation, it was only 43% of total weed density. Broadleaf weeds were 55.2% in sugar beet-winter wheat but 9.4% of total weed density in continuous winter wheat. Different rotations that include crops with different life cycles such as winter wheat-maize and winter wheat-sugar beet could lead to additional benefits of reducing the weed seed bank.

Key words: conventional agriculture / ecological farming / integrated crop management / low-input crop production / organic farming

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2009