Special Issue "Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395). This special issue belongs to the section "Weed Science and Weed Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (25 June 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Stéphane Cordeau
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Agroécologie, AgroSup Dijon, INRAE, Univ. Bourgogne Franche-Comté, F-21000 Dijon, France
Interests: weed biology; no-till; cover crop; weed suppression; integrated weed management; biodiversity-based systems; functional traits

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Conservation agriculture (CA) relies on three fundamental pillars: diversified crop rotation, permanent soil cover, and no soil disturbance (i.e., only the soil disturbance by the seeder is tolerated). In CA, there are fewer weed control possibilities because pre-sowing tillage and in-crop mechanical weeding are not possible. This may impact the weed community’s taxonomic or functional composition and thus weeding tactics over time. Despite all the ecosystem services provided by CA systems, weed/crop volunteer management as well as cover crop termination mainly rely on the use of herbicides such as glyphosate, worldwide.

This Special Issue will focus on “Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management”. We welcome new research, reviews, and opinion articles covering all related topics, including the relative role of the three pillars on weed management, biodiversity-based weed management in CA, new practices to limit weed establishment or spread, weed dynamics over time, functional approaches, weed–crop competition, seedbank, interactions between weeds and others organisms, successful experiences in designing and testing pesticide-free CA systems, and the role of livestock in CA systems to manage weeds.

Dr. Stéphane Cordeau
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • conservation agriculture
  • cover crop
  • no-till
  • biodiversity-based weed management
  • trait
  • cropping system
  • livestock
  • weed suppression
  • weed–crop competition

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
The Influence of Long-Term Different Crop Rotations and Monoculture on Weed Prevalence and Weed Seed Content in the Soil
Agronomy 2021, 11(7), 1367; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11071367 - 05 Jul 2021
Viewed by 368
Abstract
Equally effective way to achieve sustainable farming and the challenge set by the European Commission on 20 May 2020: proper crop rotation and thus reduction of the quantity of on-farm chemicals. Long-term stationary field experiments were established in 1966 at Vytautas Magnus University [...] Read more.
Equally effective way to achieve sustainable farming and the challenge set by the European Commission on 20 May 2020: proper crop rotation and thus reduction of the quantity of on-farm chemicals. Long-term stationary field experiments were established in 1966 at Vytautas Magnus University Experimental Station (54°53′ N, 23°50′ E). The study was conducted with intensive, three-course, field rotation with row crops, for green manure crop rotations, and rye monoculture as well during the last 5-year period of a 50-year investigation to determine the effect of crop rotation combinations and rye monoculture on weed density and seed bank and grain yield. In cereal crops, weed counting was performed twice: weed density was determined before the application of herbicides, and weed counting was done before the harvest. Weed seedlings were counted, their botanical species were determined, annual and perennial weed number was estimated. Weed seed bank was established before primary tillage in soil. The results obtained confirmed the hypothesis that with climate change and intensive farming, long-term crop rotations are likely to increase crop productivity, reduce weeds and weed seed banks in the soil, and thus contribute to maintaining agroecosystem sustainability. The winter rye 1000 grain weight and yield decreases as weed mass increases showing strong negative correlations: y = 475.56 − 11.93x, r = −0.91, p ≤ 0.05; y = 82.97 −14.82x, r = −0.97, p ≤ 0.01. Reseeding of rye crops leads to a growing prevalence of weeds such as Equisetum arvense L. and Mentha arvensis. Crop structures these days are dominated by cereals, which inevitably increase the spread of weeds, and therefore, the importance of crop rotations increases in the context of intensive farming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management)
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Article
The Effect of Different Soil Tillage Systems and Crop Residues on the Composition of Weed Communities
Agronomy 2021, 11(7), 1276; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11071276 - 23 Jun 2021
Viewed by 338
Abstract
The composition of weed communities in agricultural crops is dependent on soil properties and the applied agronomic practices. The current study determined the effect of different tillage systems and crop residue on the soil weed community composition. The research programme encompassed 2013–2015 in [...] Read more.
The composition of weed communities in agricultural crops is dependent on soil properties and the applied agronomic practices. The current study determined the effect of different tillage systems and crop residue on the soil weed community composition. The research programme encompassed 2013–2015 in a long-term field experiment located in the Experimental Station of Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania. The soil type in the experimental field was qualified as Endocalcaric Stagnosol (Aric, Drainic, Ruptic, Amphisiltic). Weeds were categorised into communities according to soil pH, nitrogen and moisture indicators. The results of investigations were grouped using cluster analysis. Agricultural crops were dominated by different weed species depending on the soil pH and moisture. Weed species were relatively more frequent indicating nitrogen-rich and very nitrogen-rich soils. In the reduced tillage and no-tillage systems, an increase in the abundance of weed species indicating moderate acidity and low acidity, moderately wet and wet, nitrogen-rich and very nitrogen-rich soils was observed. The application of plant residues decreased the weed species abundance. In the reduced tillage and no-tillage systems, the quantitative distribution of weed was often uneven. By evaluating the association of weed communities with groups of different tillage systems with or without plant residues, their control can be optimised. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management)
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Article
Strip Tillage and Crop Residue Retention Decrease the Size but Increase the Diversity of the Weed Seed Bank under Intensive Rice-Based Crop Rotations in Bangladesh
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1164; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061164 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 686
Abstract
Cropping under conservation agriculture (CA) has become increasingly attractive among farmers in recent years. However, weed control may be more difficult during the transition to CA from conventional establishment methods due to the reduction in tillage intensity. Conversely, CA changes to weed dynamics [...] Read more.
Cropping under conservation agriculture (CA) has become increasingly attractive among farmers in recent years. However, weed control may be more difficult during the transition to CA from conventional establishment methods due to the reduction in tillage intensity. Conversely, CA changes to weed dynamics can alter the weed seed bank in the longer run. In Bangladesh’s intensively cropped rice-based rotations, the nature of weed seed bank shifts over time after adopting CA are poorly known. Two 2-year studies were sampled from on-farm CA experiments under wheat-mungbean-winter rice and monsoon rice-mustard-winter rice rotations. We investigated the effects of reduced soil disruption in the form of strip-tillage (ST) combined with increased deposition of standing reside from previous crops (0 vs. 50%). The weed seed bank in 0–5, 5–10, and 10–15 cm depths of soil were quantified in a shade-house experiment by measuring weed emergence over 12 months in seedling trays. After 2 years of field study, the year-round count of emerged weeds from the seed bank showed that ST plus 50% mulch had a lower weed abundance and biomass and fewer weed species than that of conventional tillage (CT) without residue. The perennial weeds Ageratum conyzoides L., Alternanthera philoxeroides L., Cynodon dactylon L., Cyperus rotundus L., Jussia decurrence Walt., Leersia hexandra L., Scirpus mucronatus (L.) Palla., and Solanum torvum Sw. were enriched in the smaller-sized ST seed banks in terms of both density and biomass. The CT, on the other hand, was dominated by annual weeds: Cyperus difformis L., Cyanotis axillaris Roem., Echinochloa crus-galli (L.) Beauv., Eleusine indica L., Fimbristylis miliacea (L.) Vahl., and Rotala ramosior L. Overall, ST plus 50% residue had a more diverse seed bank than CT without mulch. The majority of weed seeds were amassed in the 0–5 cm soil depth of the ST, while most of them were accumulated in the 10–15 cm layer of the CT. The wheat-mungbean-winter rice rotation had a more diverse floristic composition with many more weed species than the monsoon rice-mustard-winter rice rotation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management)
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Article
Comparison of Organic and Inorganic Mulching for Weed Suppression in Wheat under Rain-Fed Conditions of Haripur, Pakistan
Agronomy 2021, 11(6), 1131; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11061131 - 02 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 546
Abstract
Weeds pose a great threat to crop production subsequently distressing the equilibrium of agro-ecological systems globally. Instead of relying on chemical weed control, there is a dire need to explore alternative eco-friendly agricultural practices for weed suppression and sustainable wheat production. Mulching being [...] Read more.
Weeds pose a great threat to crop production subsequently distressing the equilibrium of agro-ecological systems globally. Instead of relying on chemical weed control, there is a dire need to explore alternative eco-friendly agricultural practices for weed suppression and sustainable wheat production. Mulching being eco-friendly could potentially serve the purpose towards weed suppression organically. To check the usefulness of mulching, two-year studies were conducted under field conditions in Haripur, Pakistan, during 2014 and 2015 to elucidate the response of various mulching materials for weed control in wheat. Six mulch material treatments were used along with Buctril super (used as check) at the rate of 1.235 L ha−1 to control the most problematic weed species of wheat in Pakistan. Experiments were designed under randomized complete block design with four repeats. The analysis of data revealed a significant decrease in weed density, relative weed density, fresh and dry plant biomass at 25, 50 and 75 days after sowing (DAS) where Buctril super at 1.235 L ha−1 and mulch of black plastic were used followed by sugarcane bagasse and dry leaves of mulberry, as compared with control (untreated). Higher density of weed, relative weed density, fresh and dry plant biomass were observed in test weed species of wheat where lentil was applied with wheat and dry leaves of mulberry were incorporated. Net economic benefits in the form of benefit cost ratio (2.55) were higher where grass clippings were applied followed by sugarcane bagasse (2.43), mulberry leaves (2.49), while the lowest net economic benefits (1.72) were obtained when lentil (grown as live mulch crop) with wheat was intercropped. It was concluded from the study that sugarcane bagasse and grass clippings could be a source to control weeds in the wheat with a minimum cost of production at Haripur, Pakistan, and similar agro-climatic environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management)
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Article
Impact of Weed Control by Hand Tools on Soil Erosion under a No-Tillage System Cultivation
Agronomy 2021, 11(5), 974; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11050974 - 13 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 400
Abstract
In conservation agriculture, the no-tillage cultivation system and the retention of permanent vegetal cover are crucial to the control of soil erosion by water. This paper analyses the cultivation of maize under no-tillage, with particular reference to the effect produced on soil erosion [...] Read more.
In conservation agriculture, the no-tillage cultivation system and the retention of permanent vegetal cover are crucial to the control of soil erosion by water. This paper analyses the cultivation of maize under no-tillage, with particular reference to the effect produced on soil erosion when weed control is performed by a hand tool (machete), which disturbs the surface of the soil, and to the behavior of the soil cover in these circumstances. The study area is located in the humid tropical mountains of northern Nicaragua (Peñas Blancas Massif Nature Reserve). The results obtained show that 59.2% of the soil surface was affected by appreciable levels of sheet and splash erosion, although the vegetal cover of the soil was relatively high (with average weed and litter cover of 33.9% and 33.8%, respectively). The use of machetes for weed control provoked considerable soil disturbance, which explained the high rates of erosion observed. Moreover, this form of soil management disturbs the litter layer, making it less effective in preventing erosion. The litter remains loose on the soil surface, and so an increase in soil cover does not achieve a proportionate reduction in the area affected by erosion; thus, even with 80–100% weed and litter cover, 42% of the cultivated area continued to present soil erosion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management)
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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
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1836; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111836 - 22 Nov 2020
Viewed by 818
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management)
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Article
Soil-Mediated Effects on Weed-Crop Competition: Elucidating the Role of Annual and Perennial Intercrop Diversity Legacies
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1373; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091373 - 12 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1047
Abstract
Crop diversity may mediate the intensity of weed-crop competition by altering soil nutrient availability and plant-soil microbe interactions. A greenhouse experiment was conducted to analyze weed-crop competition in soils with varying crop diversity legacies. Soil greenhouse treatments included field soils (i.e., soil nutrient [...] Read more.
Crop diversity may mediate the intensity of weed-crop competition by altering soil nutrient availability and plant-soil microbe interactions. A greenhouse experiment was conducted to analyze weed-crop competition in soils with varying crop diversity legacies. Soil greenhouse treatments included field soils (i.e., soil nutrient and microbial legacies), a sterile greenhouse potting mix inoculated with microorganisms of the field soils (i.e., microbial legacies), and a sterile greenhouse potting mix. Soils for the greenhouse experiment were sampled and assessed after two-years of conditioning with annual and perennial cropping systems under four levels of intercrop diversity. The greenhouse experiment involved growing one sorghum sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench × S. sudanese Piper) crop plant and zero to six common lambsquarters (Chenopodium album L.) weed plants in soil from each diversity and cropping system treatment. The weed density treatments created a weed-crop competition gradient, which was used to quantify legacy effects of crop diversity. Weed-crop competition increased with crop diversity in both the field soil and inoculated soil treatments in the annual system. In the perennial system, differences in weed-crop competition intensity were driven by crop yield potential. In the perennial field soil treatment, crop yield potential was greatest in the highest diversity treatment, whereas in the perennial inoculated soil treatment, crop yield potential was greatest in the lowest diversity treatment. Results show potential for negative effects from previous crop diversity on weed-crop competition, and the divergent impact of microbial and nutrient legacies on crop yield potential. Future research should aim to evaluate the consistency of legacy effects and identify principles that can guide soil and crop management, especially in conservation agriculture where soil tillage and its microbial legacy reducing effects are minimized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management)
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Article
Weed Management in the Transition to Conservation Agriculture: Farmers’ Response
Agronomy 2020, 10(6), 843; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10060843 - 13 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1599
Abstract
Recently adopted in France, conservation agriculture still faces some challenges to its adoption, particularly weed management. To highlight the weed management practices used by farmers in conservation agriculture and the changes induced by its adoption, a large sample of 425 French farmers were [...] Read more.
Recently adopted in France, conservation agriculture still faces some challenges to its adoption, particularly weed management. To highlight the weed management practices used by farmers in conservation agriculture and the changes induced by its adoption, a large sample of 425 French farmers were invited to complete an online survey. Weed management practices used by farmers were requested for three periods: before adoption, during the first years of conservation agriculture (one to two years after adoption), and when the agricultural system is considered “mastered” by the farmer. The use of each farming practice was firstly studied independently for each period. Then, a multiple correspondence analysis followed by a hierarchical ascendant classification resulted in groups of farmers with different combinations of practices for each period. Finally, the groups of farmers were followed through the periods. Results showed that changes in weed management done according to farmers when adopting and mastering conservation agriculture are multiple and vary according to farmers and their previous weed management. Although some similar choices were identified, some farmers’ trajectories, especially those with a prior combination driven by either a soil disturbance strategy or a crop competitiveness strategy, are difficult to identify when adopting conservation agriculture. Upon mastering the agricultural system, farmers’ choices become more apparent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management)
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Perspective
Is Tillage a Suitable Option for Weed Management in Conservation Agriculture?
Agronomy 2020, 10(11), 1746; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10111746 - 10 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 827
Abstract
In Europe, conservation agriculture (CA) is currently challenged by higher weed pressure, potential glyphosate ban and reduced crop yield. Based on preliminary results and a critical analysis, we provide insights on how to assess the effect of introducing different levels of tillage intensity, [...] Read more.
In Europe, conservation agriculture (CA) is currently challenged by higher weed pressure, potential glyphosate ban and reduced crop yield. Based on preliminary results and a critical analysis, we provide insights on how to assess the effect of introducing different levels of tillage intensity, after a long-term CA sequence, on weed communities and crop yield. The experiment compared three types of fallow management (ploughing (CT), reduced tillage (RT), no-till with glyphosate (NT)) on four fields after 17 years of no-plough, which ended with 7 years of CA. The introduction of tillage proved to be a major driver of weed communities before weeding (density, richness and composition) in winter wheat. Weed density and species richness before weeding was greatest in RT, intermediate in CT and lowest in NT. The number of grains per ear and crop yield increased with tillage intensity (+11% for RT, +31% for CT). We provide avenues for future research through detailed methods and key references. Differences in winter wheat productivity were possibly related to enhanced soil structure and increased mineralisation of soil organic matter. Potential benefits of occasional ploughing will depend on the density and composition of the newly upwelled weed seedbank, which will need to be assessed before implementing tillage. From a multicriteria perspective, the long-term benefits associated with CA could largely exceed short-term yield increases associated with occasional tillage. Future studies will need to characterize the impact of occasional tillage operations on the long-term multiperformance of CA systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Agriculture and Agroecological Weed Management)
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