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Article

Legume Ecotypes and Commercial Cultivars Differ in Performance and Potential Suitability for Use as Permanent Living Mulch in Mediterranean Vegetable Systems

Group of Agroecology, Institute of Life Sciences, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Piazza Martiri della Libertà, 33, 56127 Pisa, Italy
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Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1836; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111836
Received: 16 October 2020 / Revised: 18 November 2020 / Accepted: 19 November 2020 / Published: 22 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management)
Weed control in organic conservative vegetable systems is extremely challenging and the use of legume permanent living mulches (pLM) presents an interesting opportunity. The successful use of pLM is largely determined by the choice of appropriate legumes which are able to combine adequate weed control with a marginal competitive effect on the cash crop(s). However, the availability of legumes for such systems is limited and their characterization based on growth traits can support the selection of suitable legumes for conservation organic vegetable systems. The current study investigated weed control capacity and variability in morphological and phenological traits relevant in inter-plant competition among a range of 11 commercial cultivars of legumes and seven ecotypes of Medicago polymorpha (bur medic). For commercial cultivars, Lotus corniculatus (bird’s-foot trefoil) and Trifolium repens (white clover) showed the best weed control capacity, while Trifolium subterraneum (subterranean clover) and Medicago polymopha had more suitable characteristics for a rapid and complete establishment of the pLM. Overall, legume mulches appear more effective in dicotyledonous than in monocotyledonous weed control. Trifolium subterraneum cv. Antas and T. repens cv. Haifa were identified as the potentially most suitable legumes for use as pLM and their use in mixtures could be a promising solution. In addition, the ecotypes of Medicago polymorpha Manciano and Talamone proved to be well adapted for local environmental conditions and they showed a better weed suppression than the commercial cultivars of Medicago polymorpha. View Full-Text
Keywords: organic farming; weed control; legume screening; dead mulch; clover; bur clover; reduced tillage organic farming; weed control; legume screening; dead mulch; clover; bur clover; reduced tillage
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MDPI and ACS Style

Leoni, F.; Lazzaro, M.; Carlesi, S.; Moonen, A.-C. Legume Ecotypes and Commercial Cultivars Differ in Performance and Potential Suitability for Use as Permanent Living Mulch in Mediterranean Vegetable Systems. Agronomy 2020, 10, 1836. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111836

AMA Style

Leoni F, Lazzaro M, Carlesi S, Moonen A-C. Legume Ecotypes and Commercial Cultivars Differ in Performance and Potential Suitability for Use as Permanent Living Mulch in Mediterranean Vegetable Systems. Agronomy. 2020; 10(11):1836. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111836

Chicago/Turabian Style

Leoni, Federico, Mariateresa Lazzaro, Stefano Carlesi, and Anna-Camilla Moonen. 2020. "Legume Ecotypes and Commercial Cultivars Differ in Performance and Potential Suitability for Use as Permanent Living Mulch in Mediterranean Vegetable Systems" Agronomy 10, no. 11: 1836. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111836

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