Weed Control with Straw Residues in Occasional Direct Seeding of Faba Bean (Vicia faba sp.) in Organic Agriculture


In order to gain momentum in the consolidation process of no-tillage systems in Europe’s Organic Agriculture, occasional direct seeding (DS) of faba bean (FAB) into a mulch layer of residues from precrop oats should be scrutinized. In contrast to non-legumes, grain legumes do not depend on soil-borne nitrogen due to their ability to fix nitrogen symbiotically. Concerning weed infestation, straw residues left by precrops may at least physically suppress weeds. In order to prove this hypothesis, two field experiments were carried out in 2009 at two sites in the lower Rhineland region, Germany. DS treatments were combined with 0, 4, and 6 t ha-1 of straw residues. Mouldboard ploughing (MP) combined with conventional seedbed preparation was used as control. Compared to the DS treatment without straw residue (0 t ha-1), DS treatments with straw residues (4 and 6 t ha-1, resp.) resulted in significantly lower weed density (70 and 84 % resp.). Neither differences were observed in both shoot dry matter of FAB and weeds for DS with straw residues compared with MP, nor for the grain yields of FAB. We conclude that occasional DS of FAB in OA is successful to reduce annual weeds sufficiently and may not lead to reduced FAB yields

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