Precise tillage systems for enhanced non-chemical weed management

D.A.G. Kurstjens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Soil and residue manipulation can assist weed management by killing weeds mechanically, interfering in weed lifecycles, facilitating operations and enhancing crop establishment and growth. Current tillage systems often compromise these functions, resulting in heavy reliance on herbicides, particularly in no-till systems. Herbicides are an exhaustible resource, so new approaches to merge soil conservation and non-chemical weed management are needed. This paper broadly reviews various preventive and curative non-chemical weed management tactics. It also demonstrates how innovations can be derived from functional requirements of weed management operations, and from biological processes and weaknesses in weed's lifecycles. Mechanical weeding and enhancement of weed seed mortality are highlighted as examples. Major limitations with mechanical weeding include limited weed control in crop rows at early vulnerable crop stages, weather-dependent effectiveness, and difficulties in handling crop residues. Precise steering and depth control, improved seedbed friability and lighter tractors or controlled traffic could bring considerable improvements. To expose weed seeds to predators, position them for fatal germination, viability loss or low emergence may require completely different soil displacement patterns than those of current implements and systems. Controlled traffic and precise strip tillage offer good opportunities for implementing these weed management strategies in minimum-tillage systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-305
JournalSoil & Tillage Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • corn zea-mays
  • cover crops
  • row crops
  • postdispersal predation
  • herbicide resistance
  • great-plains
  • seed
  • cultivation
  • strategies
  • soil


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