Going Organic Changes Weed Population Dynamics

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan USA 48824-1325
  • 2 Department of Botany and Plant Science, University of California, Riverside, California USA 92521-0124

Organic agriculture is growing in importance worldwide. In the United States, the rate of increase of organic growers was estimated at 12% in 2000. However, many producers are reluctant to undertake the organic transition because of uncertainty of how organic production will affect weed population dynamics and management. The organic transition has a profound impact on the agroecosystem. Changes in soil physical and chemical properties during the transition often impact indirectly insect, disease, and weed dynamics. Greater weed species richness is usually found in organic farms but total weed density and biomass are often smaller under the organic system compared with the conventional system. The improved weed suppression of organic agriculture is probably the result of combined effects of several factors including weed seed predation by soil microorganisms, seedling predation by phytophagus insects, and the physical and allelopathic effects of cover crops.

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Contributor Notes

ngouajio@msu.edu.milt@citrus.ucr.edu.
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