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Weed interference impacts and yield recovery after four years of variable crop inputs in no-till barley and canola

Harker, K.N., O'Donovan, J.T., Turkington, T.K., Blackshaw, R.E., Johnson, E.N., Brandt, S., Kutcher, H.R., Clayton, G.W. (2013). Weed interference impacts and yield recovery after four years of variable crop inputs in no-till barley and canola, 27(2), 281-290. http://dx.doi.org/10.1614/WT-D-12-00115.1

Abstract

A 2-yr (2009 to 2010), no-till (direct-seeded) "follow-up" study was conducted at five western Canada sites to determine weed interference impacts and barley and canola yield recovery after 4 yr of variable crop inputs (seed, fertilizer, herbicide). During the initial period of the study (2005 to 2008), applying fertilizer in the absence of herbicides was often worse than applying no optimal inputs; in the former case, weed biomass levels were at the highest levels (2,788 to 4,294 kg ha-1), possibly due to better utilization of nutrients by the weeds than by the crops. After optimal inputs were restored (standard treatment), most barley and canola plots recovered to optimal yield levels after 1 yr. However, 4 yr with all optimal inputs but herbicides led to only 77% yield recovery for both crops. At most sites, when all inputs were restored for 2 yr, all plots yielded similarly to the standard treatment combination. Yield "recovery" occurred despite high weed biomass levels (> 4,000 kg ha-1) prior to the first recovery year and despite high wild oat seedbank levels (> 7,000 seeds m-2) at the end of the second recovery year. In relatively competitive narrow-row crops such as barley and canola, the negative effects of high soil weed seedbanks can be mitigated if growers facilitate healthy crop canopies with appropriate seed and fertilizer rates in combination with judicious herbicide applications to adequately manage recruited weeds.

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