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Promotion of weed species diversity and reduction of weed seedbanks with conservation tillage and crop rotation

  • Stephen D. Murphy (a1), David R. Clements (a2), Svenja Belaoussoff (a3), Peter G. Kevan (a4) and Clarence J. Swanton...


In a 6-yr study on four farms (36 fields) in Ontario, Canada, we tested the effects of tillage (moldboard, chisel plow, no tillage) and crop rotations (continuous corn, corn-soybean, corn-soybean-winter wheat) on emerged and seedbank weed species diversity and density. Aside from the imposed experimental treatments, all other management was generally consistent among farms. Tillage had the largest effect on weed diversity and density. No tillage promoted the highest weed species diversity, chisel plow was intermediate, and moldboard plow resulted in the lowest species diversity. These results are consistent with ecological succession theory. The increase in weed species diversity resulted from 20 species being associated with no tillage systems, 15 of which were winter annuals, biennials, or perennials. Emerged weed density was affected only by tillage. Over 6 yr, seedbank declined in no-tillage systems from 41,000 to 8,000 seeds m−3. Crop yields were not affected by tillage or crop rotation. In practical terms, reduced tillage in combination with a good crop rotation may reduce weed density and expenditures on weed management.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada;


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Weed Science
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