Understanding the impact of biological and environmental stressors on cropping systems is essential to secure the long-term sustainability of agricultural production in the face of unprecedented climatic conditions. This study evaluated the effect of increased soil temperature and reduced moisture across three contrasting cropping systems: a no-till chemically managed system, a tilled organic system, and an organic system that used grazing to reduce tillage intensity. Results showed that while cropping system characteristics represent a major driver in structuring weed communities, the short-term impact of changes in temperature and moisture conditions appear to be more subtle. Weed community responses to temperature and moisture manipulations differed across variables: while biomass, species richness, and Simpson’s diversity estimates were not affected by temperature and moisture conditions, we observed a minor but significant shift in weed community composition. Higher weed biomass was recorded in the grazed/reduced-till organic system compared with the tilled-organic and no-till chemically managed systems. Weed communities in the two organic systems were more diverse than in the no-till conventional system, but an increased abundance in perennial species such as Cirsium arvense
and Taraxacum officinale
in the grazed/reduced-till organic system could hinder the adoption of integrated crop-livestock production tactics. Species composition of the no-till conventional weed communities showed low species richness and diversity, and was encompassed in the grazed/reduced-till organic communities. The weed communities of the no-till conventional and grazed/reduced-till organic systems were distinct from the tilled organic community, underscoring the effect that tillage has on the assembly of weed communities. Results highlight the importance of understanding the ecological mechanisms structuring weed communities, and integrating multiple tactics to reduce off-farm inputs while managing weeds.
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