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Cover Crops for Weed Management in Southern Reduced-Tillage Vegetable Cropping Systems

  • Andrew J. Price (a1) and Jason. K. Norsworthy (a2)

With growing agricultural demands from both conventional and organic systems comes the need for sustainable practices to ensure long-term productivity. Implementation of reduced- or no-till practices offers a number of environmental benefits for agricultural land and maintains adequate yield for current and future production. Concerns over satisfactory pest control options, particularly weed control, have contributed to the slow adoption of conservation practices in many areas. To identify effective alternative weed management options for use in conservation systems, research in the Southeast has continued to evaluate the use of cover crops in conjunction with reduced-tillage practices. A number of cover crop species, including cereal grains, legumes, and Brassicaceae species, that have potential to suppress weeds through direct crop interference or allelopathic potential have been investigated. Many recent research projects in the Midsouth and southeastern United States have assessed the success of cover crops in reduced-tillage row crop settings with promising outcomes in some systems. However, continued research is necessary to identify appropriate cover crop and tillage systems for use in other agricultural settings, such as vegetable crops and organic production systems.

Con el incremento en la demanda de productos agrícolas tanto de sistemas convencionales como orgánicos, viene la necesidad de prácticas sostenibles que aseguren la productividad a largo plazo. La implementación de prácticas de labranza reducida o cero ofrece un número de beneficios ambientales para la tierra agrícola y mantiene rendimientos adecuados para la producción actual y futura. La preocupación con respecto al control satisfactorio de plagas, particularmente de malezas, ha contribuido a la lenta adopción de prácticas de conservación en muchas áreas. Con el objetivo de identificar opciones alternativas para el manejo de malezas, las investigaciones en el Sureste han continuado para evaluar el uso de cultivos de cobertura en combinación con prácticas de labranza reducida. Se han investigado varias especies como cultivos de cobertura, incluyendo cereales, leguminosas y especies Brassicaceae, que tienen el potencial de suprimir malezas mediante la interferencia directa del cultivo o por su potencial alelopático. Muchos proyectos de investigación recientes en el Sur medio y en el Sureste de los Estados Unidos han evaluado el éxito de cultivos de cobertura en cultivos extensivos y bajo labranza reducida con resultados promisorios en varios sistemas. Sin embargo, se necesita que la investigación continúe para identificar cultivos de cobertura apropiados y sistemas de labranza para el uso en otros sistemas agrícolas, tales como vegetales y sistemas de producción orgánica.

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