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  • Author or Editor: Marco Ginanni x
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Physical rather than chemical treatments are preferred for integrated production and are required for organic production to ensure a sustainable production. Weed management in many horticultural crops is heavily constrained by the limited number of herbicides available. Physical weed control strategies, on the other hand, are essential to organic vegetable production and greatly assist conventional vegetable farmers. A physical weed control strategy was developed and compared with a standard chemical strategy within an integrated farming system in fresh market spinach (Spinacia oleracea). The experiment was conducted on a farm in the Serchio Valley (Tuscany, central Italy) in 2004 and 2005, where spinach is one of the most important crops. The physical weed control strategy consisted of a stale seedbed technique and postemergence treatments using various mechanical and thermal machines. The chemical weed control strategy consisted of a single postemergence herbicide treatment using phenmedipham at 15.8% in compliance with integrated production norms in Italy. Strategy performance was assessed in terms of weed density and biomass, total labor requirement, and crop yield. Compared with the chemical system, the physical system required a substantially larger labor input (19 vs. 6 h·ha−1), but like the chemical system, did not require hand weeding. In addition, the physical system reduced weed dry biomass at harvest by 50% and increased spinach fresh yield by 35%. Physical strategies therefore are a valid alternative to the use of herbicides in fresh market spinach and may be especially desirable given the increasing importance of nonchemical weed control in integrated, organic, and conventional farming systems in Europe and the United States.

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