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Competitive ability of some cover crop species against Asystasia gangetica and Pennisetum polystachion

Samedani, Batoul, Juraimi, Abdul Shukor, Anwar, Md. Parvez, Rafii, Mohd Yusop, Awadz, Sheikh Abdullah Sheikh, Anuar, Abudul Rahim
Acta agriculturæ Scandinavica 2012 v.62 no.7 pp. 571-582
Asystasia gangetica, Axonopus, Calopogonium caeruleum, Centrosema pubescens, Elaeis guineensis, Mucuna bracteata, Pennisetum polystachion, Pueraria phaseoloides var. javanica, biomass, canopy, cover crops, crop management, grasses, leaf area index, legumes, oils, photosynthetically active radiation, plantations, shoots, soil, weed control, weeds, Malaysia
Asystasia gangetica and Pennisetum polystachion are the most troublesome weeds in oil palm plantations in Malaysia and establishment of cover crops under oil palms is an integral part of sustainable weed management in plantations. Replacement-series experiments were conducted to evaluate the mode and strength of competitiveness of four legume cover crop species, Calopogonium caeruleum, Centrosema pubescens, Mucuna bracteata and Pueraria javanica, and one soft grass species, Axonopus compressus, against Asystasia gangetica and Pennisetum polystachion. Relative yield, relative yield total and relative crowding coefficient were calculated with reference to shoot biomass. Asystasia gangetica was a consistently weaker competitor than Pennisetum polystachion. The legume cover crop species had higher relative yield when grown in mixtures, whereas the yield of Asystasia gangetica was lower in mixtures with legumes than in monoculture. The higher competitiveness of legumes was due to greater canopy height and leaf area index. Centrosema pubescens was a slightly weaker competitor than the other legumes. Although leaf area per plant of Centrosema pubescens did not differ from that of other three legumes, canopy height and blocking photosynthetically active radiation to the soil surface were lower. When grown with a cover crop for 12 weeks, dry weight per plant, leaf area and shoot number of Pennisetum polystachion increased as its proportion decreased in mixtures. Relative yield data indicated that Pennisetum polystachion is a strong competitor. Axonopus compressus was less susceptible to Pennisetum polystachion interference than the legumes. All cover crop species studied proved highly competitive against Asystasia gangetica, but none could compete against Pennisetum polystachion. The study confirms the feasibility of using a cover crop for management of Asystasia gangetica.