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Integration of Elymus repens control and post-harvest catch crop growing in organic cropping systems

By Bo Melander, Ilse A Rasmussen and Inger Bertelsen

Abstract

In Northern Europe, Elymus repens (L.) Gould infestations are traditionally controlled by repeated stubble cultivation in the period from harvest to ploughing in autumn. However, in organic farming, post-harvest tillage is undesirable due to the need for retaining nutrients in the cropping system. The soil is mostly cropped in that period, limiting post-harvest tillage. Two control strategies against E. repens are presented that merge the objectives of achieving a significant reduction of E. repens while having the soil covered with plants during the post-harvest period. Strategy I is an integration of rhizome fragmentation by soil cultivation within two days after harvest in early August with subsequent sowing of a catch crop to suppress shoot growth from the rhizome fragments. Strategy II also includes growing a catch crop but is preceded by a mid-summer fallow period lasting 4-6 weeks where repeated soil cultivations are conducted to fragment, weaken and desiccate the rhizomes. Strategy II controlled 91-90% of the E. repens population while strategy I only controlled up to 40%, mainly because of the weakening and desiccation of rhizomes caused by repeated cultivations. However, the fallow period may lead to undesirable nutrient leaching from sandy soils and the grower will have to desist from growing a profitable maturing crop, aspects that should be counterbalanced against the urgency for E. repens control and other possible control options. Strategy I appears to be more relevant for low infestation levels of E. repens while strategy II would be more appropriate where infestations have become large. \ud \u

Topics: Weed management
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:orgprints.org:4586
Provided by: Organic Eprints

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