Manipulating crop row orientation and crop density to suppress Lolium rigidum

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Weed Research


Light is an important resource that crops and weeds compete for and so increased light interception by the crop can be used as a method of weed suppression in cereal crops. This research investigated the impact of altered availability of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) (from crop row orientation or seeding rate) on the growth and fecundity of Lolium rigidum. Wheat and barley crops were sown in an east–west (EW) or north–south (NS) direction, at a high or low seeding rate, in three field trials in 2010 and 2011 (at Merredin, Wongan Hills and Katanning, Western Australia). The average PAR available to L. rigidum in the inter-row space of EW crops compared with NS crops was 78% to 91% at crop tillering, 39% to 56% at stem elongation, 28% to 53% at boot/anthesis and 41% to 59% at grain fill. Reduced PAR in the EW crop rows resulted in reduced L. rigidum fecundity in five of the six trials (average of 2968 and 5705 L. rigidum seeds m-2 in the EW and NS crops). Availability of PAR was not influenced by seeding rate, but the high seeding rate reduced fecundity in three of the six trials (average of 3354 and 5092 seeds m-2 in the crops with high and low seeding rate). Increased competitive ability of crops (through increased interception of PAR or increased crop density) was highly effective in reducing L. rigidum fecundity and is an environmentally friendly and low cost method of weed suppression.