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Effects of drought on weed emergence and growth vary with the seed burial depth and presence of a cover crop

Cordeau, Stéphane, Wayman, Sandra, Reibel, Carole, Strbik, Florence, Chauvel, Bruno, Guillemin, Jean‐Philippe
Weed biology and management 2018 v.18 no.1 pp. 12-25
Alopecurus myosuroides, Bromus sterilis, Capsella bursa-pastoris, Centaurea, Poa annua, Sonchus asper, Veronica persica, Vulpia myuros, agricultural conservation practice, annual weeds, buried seeds, cover crops, drought, dry matter content, leaves, seed germination, soil, summer
In conservation agriculture, weed seed germination could decrease with the presence of a cover crop, surface weed seed location and temporal drought in summer just after seed shedding. This study simultaneously examined the effects of a cover crop, burial depth (seed location) and hydric stress on weed emergence and early growth. It was hypothesized that drought would reduce weed emergence and the initial growth of weed seeds and that this effect would be greater when the seeds were on the soil surface and in the presence of a cover crop. Four annual weed species were chosen that are frequently found (Anisantha sterilis, Vulpia myuros, Sonchus asper, Veronica persica) and not frequently found (Alopecurus myosuroides, Poa annua, Cyanus segetum, Capsella bursa‐pastoris) in fields that implement conservation agriculture. The unburied seeds had 26% lower emergence, on average, than the buried seeds (significant for six of the eight species), hydric stress reduced emergence by 20% (for seven of the eight species) and the presence of a cover crop reduced the level of emergence by 17% (for all species). The unburied seeds with hydric stress were emerging under the “most stressful” set of factors, with a 45% decrease in emergence, compared with the seeds emerging under the “least stressful” set of factors (buried seeds without hydric stress). All the weed growth measurements (height, dry matter content and number of leaves) decreased with the presence of a cover crop. The species that are found frequently in the fields that implement conservation agriculture, compared with the species that are not frequently found in conservation agriculture fields, had higher rates of germination and a higher tolerance of hydric stress when their seeds were unburied.