Weed suppression and nitrogen (N) management present the greatest challenges to organic growers. Cover crops, the strategic use of tillage, and multiple nitrogen sources are being investigated in order to develop integrated management practices. Combinations of legume and grass cover crops are being utilized as alternative N sources and as tools for weed suppression. Another objective is to compare conventional and no-till practices to determine when the strategic use of tillage is most beneficial for N management and weed control. The last objective is to evaluate the fate of applied N and N released from cover decomposition on crop development. The best combinations of cover crop species, the frequency and intensity of tillage, and optimum N rates will be determined for the production of organic broccoli. This project will aid growers interested in transitioning to organic farming. In addition, integrated management practices that balance the short-term needs for crop productivity and the long-term interests of sustainable production will be reported.
Daniel Schellenberg, Ronald Morse and Gregory Welbaum
Nancy G. Creamer, Mark A. Bennett, Benjamin R. Stinner, John Cardina and Emilie E. Regnier
Field and laboratory studies were conducted to investigate the mechanisms of weed suppression by cover crops. High-performance liquid chromatograph analysis and a seed germination bioassay demonstrated that rye (Secale cereale L.) can be leached of its allelochemicals, redried, and used as an inert control for separating physical suppression from other types of interference. In a field study, rye, crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.), barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), and a mixture of the four species suppressed the emergence of eastern black nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum Dun.). Crimson clover inhibited the emergence of eastern black nightshade beyond what could be attributed to physical suppression alone. The emergence of yellow foxtail [Setaria glauca (L.) Beauv.] was inhibited by rye and barley but not by the other cover crops or the cover crop mixture.
Bonnie L. Appleton and Susan C. French
A commercially available copper-treated disk was evaluated for its effect on weed suppression for container-grown willow oak (Quercus phellos L.). No weeds grew in containers where disks were used. All trees grown without disks or preemergent herbicide were dead within 6 months. Top dry weights were greater for trees grown with disks or preemergence herbicide, but root dry weights were not different.
Harsimran K. Gill, Robert McSorley and Danielle D. Treadwell
Soil solarization is an important practice for small-acreage farmers and home gardeners and is used commercially in areas with high solar radiation and air temperature during the summer. In this technique, clear plastic films are used to increase soil temperature to manage soil-borne plant pests such as insects, diseases, nematodes, fungi, and weeds. Several different kinds of plastic films were evaluated in 2007 and 2008 for durability, weather tolerance, and weed suppression. Treatments were arranged in a randomized complete block design with five replications. In 2007, treatments were four clear plastic films including: ISO, VeriPack, Poly Pak, Bromostop®, and a white plastic control. In 2008, treatments were Polydak®, Poly Pak, Bromostop®, and white plastic. Films were evaluated for weed suppression based on the population density of weeds that emerged through breaks in the plastic, for durability in terms of number and size of breaks in the films, and for the total exposed soil area resulting from breaks. Purple nutsedge (Cyperus rotundus) was the major weed problem throughout both years. In both years, total exposed area was greater with white plastic and Bromostop® (81.5 ft2/bed) compared with other plastic films (<21.5 ft2/bed). Due to their durability, Poly Pak, ISO, and VeriPack suppressed nutsedge more than Bromostop and white plastic. Although a number of very small (<0.75 inch long) breaks were observed in Polydak® plastic film, they never increased in size, and this plastic film remained intact throughout the experiment and provided excellent weed control.
Adequate weed control in the establishment year of matted-row strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa) is crucial for the long-term viability of plantings. Suppression of weed growth until the new strawberry plants are established and runners rooted is an effective strategy in new plantings. Three biodegradable mulch films were compared to standard weed control for establishing matted-row strawberries. Two films were test products using a biodegradable polymer, either clear or black, covering brown 40-lb kraft paper (IP40 Clear and IP40 Black, respectively). The third material was Planters paper, a black paper mulch. The films were evaluated for weed suppression, rate of degradation and effects on runner production and fruit yield. Additionally, the ability of runners that were formed to root as the film degraded was also observed. The IP40 Black mulch reduced the number of weeds compared to the standard control but did not degrade quickly enough for runners to root. The Planters paper also had fewer weeds, but it degraded quickly along the edges where it was covered by soil. This allowed the wind to tear it and blow large pieces off the plots. The IP40 Clear degraded in a timely manner and allowed runner rooting, but it was not acceptable as a weed suppression material. The IP40 Black and Planters paper mulches were effective for weed control in the establishment year, but rate of degradation was too slow in the former case and too fast in the latter. Runner production and fruit yield were not affected by any of the mulch materials compared to standard control.
Bala Rathinasabapathi, James Ferguson and Mark Gal
Shredded and chipped wood mulches are used for weed suppression in perennial fruit crops, in urban landscapes, and occasionally in vegetable crops. Wood chip mulches with weed-suppressing allelochemicals may be more effective for weed control, especially under sustainable and organic production systems, than mulches without such properties. The objective of this study was to test for the presence of water-soluble allelochemicals in wood chips derived from tree species, often found in wood resource recovery operations in the southeastern US. Presence of allelochemicals in water eluates of woodchips and leaves was evaluated in a lettuce bioassay. Eluates of wood chips from red maple (Acer rubrum L.), swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii Nutt.), red cedar (Juniperus silicicola L.H. Bailey), neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.), and magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora L.) highly inhibited germinating lettuce seeds, as assessed by inhibition of hypocotyl and radicle growth. The effects of wood chip eluates from these five species were more than that found for eluates from wood chips of black walnut (Juglans nigra L.,) a species previously identified to have weed-suppressing allelochemicals. Tests on red cedar, red maple, and neem showed that water-soluble allelochemicals were present not only in the wood but also in the leaves. In greenhouse trials, red cedar wood chip mulch significantly inhibited the growth of florida beggarweed (Desmodium tortuosum DC.), compared to the gravel-mulched and no-mulch controls.
Leslie A. Weston and Andrew F. Senesac
For the past 5 years, we have evaluated more than 100 herbaceous perennial groundcovers, including both grasses and grass mixtures, as well as ornamental broadleaf materials, for their ability to establish, suppress weeds, provide aesthetic appeal, and resist pests in various landscape and roadside settings across New York State. By working in cooperation with the NYSDOT, we have developed recommendations for materials that have performed well in difficult, potentially stressful, roadside and landscape settings. We have performed replicated research and demonstration trials that have clearly shown that certain species and cultivars provide effective weed suppression; great aesthetic appeal due to foliar texture, color, or flowering, resist pests and diseases; and require low maintenance over time. In addition, certain materials tolerate high levels of salt (NaCl), simulating roadside salt application exposure, in supplemental greenhouse studies. Materials generally suppressed weeds effectively by forming a dense canopy in a short period of time, and reducing light interception at the soil surface under this dense canopy. Certain groundcovers also appeared to exhibit strong potential allelopathic properties when grown either in field or laboratory settings. The selection of new plant materials for use in low-maintenance landscape settings offers potential to reduce time and maintenance inputs in difficult landscape or roadside settings, with the added benefit of reducing pesticide application in these settings for weed management. Additional studies are currently underway to develop further recommendations for use of warm- and cool-season turfgrasses in these settings.
Lidia M. Carrera, Aref A. Abdul-Baki and John R. Teasdale
Cover crops combined with conservation tillage practices can minimize chemical inputs and improve soil quality, soil water-holding capacity, weed suppression and crop yields. No-tillage production of sweet corn (Zea mays var. `Silver Queen') was studied for 2 years at the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Md., to determine cover crop management practices that maximize yield and suppress weeds. Cover crop treatments were hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth), rye (Secale cereale L.) and hairy vetch mixture, and bare soil (no cover crop). There were three cover crop killing methods: mowing, rolling or contact herbicide paraquat. All plots were treated with or without atrazine and metolachlor after planting. There was a 23% reduction in sweet corn plant population in the rye-hairy vetch mixture compared to bare soil. Averaged over both years, sweet corn yield in hairy vetch treatments was 43% greater than in bare soil, whereas yield in the rye-hairy vetch mixture was 30% greater than in bare soil. There were no significant main effects of kill method or significant interactions between kill method and cover crop on yield. Sweet corn yields were not different for hairy vetch or rye-hairy vetch treatments with or without atrazine and metolachlor. However, yield in bare soil without the herbicides atrazine and metolachor were reduced by 63% compared to bare soil with these herbicides. When no atrazine and metolachlor were applied, weed biomass was reduced in cover crops compared to the bare soil. Regression analysis showed greater yield loss per unit of weed biomass for bare soil than for the vetch or rye-hairy vetch mixture. This analysis suggests that cover crops increased sweet corn yield in the absence of atrazine and metolachlor not only by reducing weed biomass, but also by increasing the competitiveness of corn to weeds at any given biomass.
Thomas Björkman and Joseph W. Shail Jr.
both for at least 72 h at 70 °C in a forced-air oven, and weighing both. The effectiveness of weed suppression by buckwheat was determined by comparing weed growth in buckwheat plots with weed growth in buckwheat-free subplots. One-square-meter subplots
H.F. Abouziena, O.M. Hafez, I.M. El-Metwally, S.D. Sharma and M. Singh
safety, and herbicide-resistant weed populations. Economically and environmentally sustainable weed control alternatives, such as nonsynthetic or natural mulch, can provide many benefits, including weed suppression and delayed weed seedling emergence