Effectsof input system and crop rotation on weed community dynamics incorn

Smith, R.G. and K. L. Gross

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting (2004-10-08 )

The degree to which the composition of a weed community is predictable from season to season may have implications for growers interested in developing more efficient weed management strategies.  Identification of agricultural management practices that affect the predictability of the weed community may, therefore, be an important component of a sustainable weed management program that decreases the costs and lessens the human health and environmental impacts associated with off-farm chemical inputs.  Both theoretical and experimental studies suggest that complex ecological systems are more stable than simple systems. Management practices that increase the complexity of the cropping system, such as organic-based management or crop rotation, may result in weed communities that are more stable, and hence more predictable.  We investigated the stability of the emergent weed community, measured as constancy in richness and community composition over a four-year period, in a long-term annual row-crop experiment manipulating inputs (conventional versus organic) and crop rotation (continuous corn versus a four-year rotation).  Emergent weed community richness and composition varied among treatments and years. Community composition over the four-year study period was more stable in continuous corn than the corn rotation. Input system did not affect stability.

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