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Diversifying crop rotations with temporary grasslands : potentials for weed mangement and farmland biodiversity

Abstract : Crop rotation may be used to prevent the continuous selection of particular weed species adapted to one crop type. This might be useful for weed management, economy in herbicide applications and promoting biodiversity. Common simple crop sequences might be diversified by introducing perennial forage crops. Impacts of such perennial crops on weeds were studied with four approaches : 1) Large-scale weed surveys in 632 fields in western France showed that weed species composition differed most strongly between perennial alfalfa crops and annual crops. Comparisons of fields before, during and after perennial alfalfa suggested that community composition varies in a cyclic way during such crop rotations. Several weed species problematic in annual crops were suppressed during and after perennial crops, but the appearance of other species led to equal or even higher plant diversities. 2) A 3-year field experiment with contrasting crop management options allowed an investigation of the underlying mechanisms for this: The absence of soil tillage reduced weed emergence but increased the survival of established plants. The permanent vegetation cover and frequent hay cuttings reduced weed growth, plant survival and seed production. 3) Greenhouse experiments testing the regrowth ability of individual plants after cutting showed strong differences between species and functional groups. An two-factorial experiment suggested that the negative impacts of cutting and competition on weed growth were mainly additive. 4) Special measurements of weed seed predation in the field experiment showed positive correlations with vegetation cover, indicating that this ecosystem service may be particularly fostered by perennial crops. Consistent preferences of seed predators for certain weed species indicates that seed predation may be another cause of the observed weed community shifts.
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Helmut Meiss. Diversifying crop rotations with temporary grasslands : potentials for weed mangement and farmland biodiversity. Agricultural sciences. Université de Bourgogne, 2010. English. ⟨NNT : 2010DIJOS018⟩. ⟨tel-00575607⟩

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