Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2003
Publication Date: 4/1/2006
Citation: Donald, W.W. 2006. Mowing for weed management. In: Singh, H.P., Batish, D.R., Kohli, R.K., editors. Handbook of Sustainable Weed Management. Binghamton, NY:Food Products Press. p. 329-372.
Technical Abstract: Mowing is an integral part of managing herbaceous vegetation and weeds in diverse environments, including pastures, rangeland, conservation reserve land, cover crops, grassed waterways, stream buffers, field margins, road- sides, orchards, tree plantations, vineyards, horticultural ornamentals, lawns, turf, golf greens, and some wild lands. Yet, despite its long-term and widespread use, mowing has not been reviewed before as a tool for managing weeds. Because of concern about herbicide contamination of surface and ground water and environmental degradation caused by currently used farming methods, alternative weed management methods, such as mowing for weed control, need to be re-examined. This review summarizes the pros and cons of mowing for managing weeds and provides examples of its use at a range of landscape scales in these diverse agricultural systems. Mowing is now used to achieve several, often conflicting, goals: (1) to prevent or reduce losses in yield or quality due to weed growth and competition with crops, (2) to minimize viable weed seed production, (3) to assist in crop harvest, (4) to maintain ground cover for erosion control, (5) to enhance aesthetic appeal, and (6) to direct plant succession. Even when it is used for purposes other than weed control, mowing directly and indirectly impacts weed biology. Understanding these effects may lead to new ways of using mowing in weed management. Certainly, mowing often does not adequately control weeds when used alone, but it may contribute to weed management systems when used in combination or sequence with other weed control methods.