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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Soil Microorganisms for Weed Management

Author
item Kennedy, Ann

Submitted to: Journal of Crop Production
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 1, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Ecologically oriented weed management within viable, integrated systems is gaining popularity as cultivation and excess herbicide use for weed control is less favored. Traditional methods of weed management have not considered the microbial or other biological factors that influence plant growth; however, incorporating this knowledge may expand weed management possibilities to develop weed-suppressive soils. It has been shown that soil microorganisms are capable of suppressing weeds in the field, and seed decay phenomena are most likely microbial. It is imperative that an understanding of soil microorganisms and their ecology be developed, so that they may be used to benefit agriculture, especially weed management. Microbially based weed management takes advantage of biotic factors that influence the distribution, abundance, and competitive abilities of plant species. Biological measures offer additional practices to assist herbicides in suppressing weed growth and establishment. The challenge ahead is to develop management systems that favor microbial activity in weed control by increasing the interaction of these three components. Microorganisms in weed management could increase crop efficiency, decrease the need for tillage, and decrease the use of synthetic chemical herbicides. The future demands that integrative approaches be used that involve management of the whole system for weed suppression, including practices to conserve or enhance native weed pathogens.

Technical Abstract: Traditional methods of weed management have not considered the microbial or other biological factors that influence plant growth; however, incorporating this knowledge may expand weed management possibilities to develop weed-suppressive soils. Alternative weed management strategies are needed to expand the capability of weed control as weed pressures continue to limit optimum yield and the use of synthetic chemical herbicides for weed control becomes more restricted. Biotic factors can influence the distribution, abundance, and competitive abilities of plant species. It has been shown that soil microorganisms are capable of suppressing weeds in the field, and seed decay phenomena are most likely microbial. It is imperative that an understanding of soil microorganisms and their ecology be developed, so that they may be used to benefit agriculture, especially weed management. Further study is required so that the ecological and biological effects of the resident soil microbial population on weed growt can be used effectively in weed management strategies to assist in reducing inputs.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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