Ecological weed management by cover cropping : effects on weed growth in autumn and weed establishment in spring

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Cover crops grown in the period between two main crops have potential as an important component of a system-oriented ecological weed management strategy. In late summer and autumn, the cover crop can suppress growth and seed production of weeds, whereas the incorporation of cover crop residues in spring may reduce or retard weed emergence. Based on these two criteria, six cover crop species were evaluated for their weed suppressive potential in 2 years of experimentation in the Netherlands. Fodder radish, winter oilseed rape and winter rye had the strongest competitive ability in autumn; the competitive strength of Italian ryegrass was intermediate and white lupin and lucerne were poor competitors. Competitiveness was strongly correlated to early light interception. Surprisingly, doubling the recommended sowing density did not increase weed suppressive ability. Although a poor competitor in the fall, after incorporation in spring, lucerne had the strongest inhibitory effect on seedling establishment, followed by winter oilseed rape and white lupin. Winter rye and fodder radish did not affect seedling establishment, whereas Italian ryegrass was not evaluated because of re-growth after incorporation. Competition in autumn and subsequent residue-mediated suppression of weed establishment in spring varied among the cover crop species, with winter oilseed rape offering relatively strong effects during both periods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-502
JournalWeed Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • seed-germination
  • green manure
  • alkaloid concentration
  • secale-cereale
  • aerobic rice
  • soil
  • competitiveness
  • allelochemicals
  • suppression
  • allelopathy


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