Weeds in organic fertility-building leys: aspects of species richness and weed management

TF Döring, J Storkey, JA Baddeley, RP Collins, O Crowley, SA Howlett, HE Jones, H McCalman, M Measures, H Pearce, S Roderick, CA Watson, MS Wolfe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Legume-based leys (perennial sod crops) are an important component of fertility management in organic rotations in many parts of Europe. Despite their importance, however, relatively little is known about how these leys affect weed communities or how the specific composition of leys may contribute to weed management. To determine whether the choice of plant species in the ley affects weeds, we conducted replicated field trials at six locations in the UK over 24 months, measuring weed cover and biomass in plots sown with monocultures of 12 legume and 4 grass species, and in plots sown with a mixture of 10 legume species and 4 grass species. Additionally, we monitored weed communities in leys on 21 organic farms across the UK either sown with a mixture of the project species or the farmers’ own species mix. In total, 63 weed species were found on the farms, with the annuals Stellaria media, Sonchus arvensis, and Veronica persica being the most frequent species in the first year after establishment of the ley, while Stellaria media and the two perennials Ranunculus repens and Taraxacum officinale dominated the weed spectrum in the second year. Our study shows that organic leys constitute an important element of farm biodiversity. In both replicated and on-farm trials, weed cover and species richness were significantly lower in the second year than in the first, owing to lower presence of annual weeds in year two. In monocultures, meadow pea (Lathyrus pratensis) was a poor competitor against weeds, and a significant increase in the proportion of weed biomass was observed over time, due to poor recovery of meadow pea after mowing. For red clover (Trifolium pratense), we observed the lowest proportion of weed biomass in total biomass among the tested legume species. Crop biomass and weed biomass were negatively correlated across species. Residuals from the linear regression between crop biomass and weed biomass indicated that at similar levels of crop biomass, grasses had lower weed levels than legumes. We conclude that choice of crop species is an important tool for weed management in leys.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51 - 65
    Number of pages15
    JournalOrganic Farming
    Volume3
    Issue number1
    Early online date1 Dec 2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusFirst published - 1 Dec 2017

    Fingerprint

    weed control
    weeds
    species diversity
    biomass
    legumes
    Stellaria media
    farms
    Trifolium pratense
    grasses
    meadows
    Lathyrus pratensis
    peas
    Veronica persica
    Ranunculus repens
    Sonchus arvensis
    Taraxacum officinale
    annual weeds
    mowing
    crops
    field experimentation

    Bibliographical note

    1031439

    Keywords

    • Clover
    • Conservation
    • Grass
    • Legume
    • Rotation
    • Soil fertility
    • Species richness
    • Weed community

    Cite this

    Döring, TF., Storkey, J., Baddeley, JA., Collins, RP., Crowley, O., Howlett, SA., ... Wolfe, MS. (2017). Weeds in organic fertility-building leys: aspects of species richness and weed management. Organic Farming, 3(1), 51 - 65. https://doi.org/10.12924/of2017.03010051
    Döring, TF ; Storkey, J ; Baddeley, JA ; Collins, RP ; Crowley, O ; Howlett, SA ; Jones, HE ; McCalman, H ; Measures, M ; Pearce, H ; Roderick, S ; Watson, CA ; Wolfe, MS. / Weeds in organic fertility-building leys: aspects of species richness and weed management. In: Organic Farming. 2017 ; Vol. 3, No. 1. pp. 51 - 65.
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    abstract = "Legume-based leys (perennial sod crops) are an important component of fertility management in organic rotations in many parts of Europe. Despite their importance, however, relatively little is known about how these leys affect weed communities or how the specific composition of leys may contribute to weed management. To determine whether the choice of plant species in the ley affects weeds, we conducted replicated field trials at six locations in the UK over 24 months, measuring weed cover and biomass in plots sown with monocultures of 12 legume and 4 grass species, and in plots sown with a mixture of 10 legume species and 4 grass species. Additionally, we monitored weed communities in leys on 21 organic farms across the UK either sown with a mixture of the project species or the farmers’ own species mix. In total, 63 weed species were found on the farms, with the annuals Stellaria media, Sonchus arvensis, and Veronica persica being the most frequent species in the first year after establishment of the ley, while Stellaria media and the two perennials Ranunculus repens and Taraxacum officinale dominated the weed spectrum in the second year. Our study shows that organic leys constitute an important element of farm biodiversity. In both replicated and on-farm trials, weed cover and species richness were significantly lower in the second year than in the first, owing to lower presence of annual weeds in year two. In monocultures, meadow pea (Lathyrus pratensis) was a poor competitor against weeds, and a significant increase in the proportion of weed biomass was observed over time, due to poor recovery of meadow pea after mowing. For red clover (Trifolium pratense), we observed the lowest proportion of weed biomass in total biomass among the tested legume species. Crop biomass and weed biomass were negatively correlated across species. Residuals from the linear regression between crop biomass and weed biomass indicated that at similar levels of crop biomass, grasses had lower weed levels than legumes. We conclude that choice of crop species is an important tool for weed management in leys.",
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    Döring, TF, Storkey, J, Baddeley, JA, Collins, RP, Crowley, O, Howlett, SA, Jones, HE, McCalman, H, Measures, M, Pearce, H, Roderick, S, Watson, CA & Wolfe, MS 2017, 'Weeds in organic fertility-building leys: aspects of species richness and weed management', Organic Farming, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 51 - 65. https://doi.org/10.12924/of2017.03010051

    Weeds in organic fertility-building leys: aspects of species richness and weed management. / Döring, TF; Storkey, J; Baddeley, JA; Collins, RP; Crowley, O; Howlett, SA; Jones, HE; McCalman, H; Measures, M; Pearce, H; Roderick, S; Watson, CA; Wolfe, MS.

    In: Organic Farming, Vol. 3, No. 1, 01.12.2017, p. 51 - 65.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Weeds in organic fertility-building leys: aspects of species richness and weed management

    AU - Döring, TF

    AU - Storkey, J

    AU - Baddeley, JA

    AU - Collins, RP

    AU - Crowley, O

    AU - Howlett, SA

    AU - Jones, HE

    AU - McCalman, H

    AU - Measures, M

    AU - Pearce, H

    AU - Roderick, S

    AU - Watson, CA

    AU - Wolfe, MS

    N1 - 1031439

    PY - 2017/12/1

    Y1 - 2017/12/1

    N2 - Legume-based leys (perennial sod crops) are an important component of fertility management in organic rotations in many parts of Europe. Despite their importance, however, relatively little is known about how these leys affect weed communities or how the specific composition of leys may contribute to weed management. To determine whether the choice of plant species in the ley affects weeds, we conducted replicated field trials at six locations in the UK over 24 months, measuring weed cover and biomass in plots sown with monocultures of 12 legume and 4 grass species, and in plots sown with a mixture of 10 legume species and 4 grass species. Additionally, we monitored weed communities in leys on 21 organic farms across the UK either sown with a mixture of the project species or the farmers’ own species mix. In total, 63 weed species were found on the farms, with the annuals Stellaria media, Sonchus arvensis, and Veronica persica being the most frequent species in the first year after establishment of the ley, while Stellaria media and the two perennials Ranunculus repens and Taraxacum officinale dominated the weed spectrum in the second year. Our study shows that organic leys constitute an important element of farm biodiversity. In both replicated and on-farm trials, weed cover and species richness were significantly lower in the second year than in the first, owing to lower presence of annual weeds in year two. In monocultures, meadow pea (Lathyrus pratensis) was a poor competitor against weeds, and a significant increase in the proportion of weed biomass was observed over time, due to poor recovery of meadow pea after mowing. For red clover (Trifolium pratense), we observed the lowest proportion of weed biomass in total biomass among the tested legume species. Crop biomass and weed biomass were negatively correlated across species. Residuals from the linear regression between crop biomass and weed biomass indicated that at similar levels of crop biomass, grasses had lower weed levels than legumes. We conclude that choice of crop species is an important tool for weed management in leys.

    AB - Legume-based leys (perennial sod crops) are an important component of fertility management in organic rotations in many parts of Europe. Despite their importance, however, relatively little is known about how these leys affect weed communities or how the specific composition of leys may contribute to weed management. To determine whether the choice of plant species in the ley affects weeds, we conducted replicated field trials at six locations in the UK over 24 months, measuring weed cover and biomass in plots sown with monocultures of 12 legume and 4 grass species, and in plots sown with a mixture of 10 legume species and 4 grass species. Additionally, we monitored weed communities in leys on 21 organic farms across the UK either sown with a mixture of the project species or the farmers’ own species mix. In total, 63 weed species were found on the farms, with the annuals Stellaria media, Sonchus arvensis, and Veronica persica being the most frequent species in the first year after establishment of the ley, while Stellaria media and the two perennials Ranunculus repens and Taraxacum officinale dominated the weed spectrum in the second year. Our study shows that organic leys constitute an important element of farm biodiversity. In both replicated and on-farm trials, weed cover and species richness were significantly lower in the second year than in the first, owing to lower presence of annual weeds in year two. In monocultures, meadow pea (Lathyrus pratensis) was a poor competitor against weeds, and a significant increase in the proportion of weed biomass was observed over time, due to poor recovery of meadow pea after mowing. For red clover (Trifolium pratense), we observed the lowest proportion of weed biomass in total biomass among the tested legume species. Crop biomass and weed biomass were negatively correlated across species. Residuals from the linear regression between crop biomass and weed biomass indicated that at similar levels of crop biomass, grasses had lower weed levels than legumes. We conclude that choice of crop species is an important tool for weed management in leys.

    KW - Clover

    KW - Conservation

    KW - Grass

    KW - Legume

    KW - Rotation

    KW - Soil fertility

    KW - Species richness

    KW - Weed community

    U2 - 10.12924/of2017.03010051

    DO - 10.12924/of2017.03010051

    M3 - Article

    VL - 3

    SP - 51

    EP - 65

    JO - Organic Farming

    JF - Organic Farming

    SN - 2297-6485

    IS - 1

    ER -