Submitted to: Quarantine and Protection of Plants
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/23/2009
Publication Date: 4/16/2009
Citation: Anderson, R.L. 2009. Plant Mulches Can Help Weed Management in Ukraine. Zakhyst Roslyn. 13:86-98. Interpretive Summary: Tillage has been a key component in crop production in Ukraine for centuries. Consequently, soil structure and health has declined. Producers and scientists are interested in rebuilding their soil, thus they are exploring no-till practices. They are also interested in using plant mulches to further enhance soil restoration and manage weeds. This paper reviews the use of plant mulches in the United States to provide insight for scientists in Ukraine in planning systems research. The paper describes plant mulches along a precipitation gradient, similar to conditions across Ukraine. Plant mulches require careful management and incorporation in cropping systems, as yield loss can be substantial in poorly-designed systems. Plant mulches can help weed management by delaying weed seedling emergence and density, which may reduce the need for herbicides.
Technical Abstract: Producers in the United States are interested in restoring the health of their soils to improve crop production. Decades of tillage have severely damaged soil structure and functioning. Eliminating tillage from production systems has repaired some of this damage to soil. Producers and scientists in the U.S. are now using plant mulches such as cover crops to accelerate soil restoration started with no-till practices. Plant mulches can also help weed management; however, results have been inconsistent. This paper reviews research with plant mulches in the U.S. for insight to integrate this practice with weed management and cropping systems in Ukraine. Managing plant mulches for maximum impact on weeds often reduces crop yield, whereas weed control by mulches is seldom sufficient to eliminate the need for herbicides. We encourage producers and scientists in Ukraine to explore plant mulches in cropping systems to improve soil health, which will increase soil productivity and crop yields across time. Plant mulches can supplement conventional weed management by reducing weed seedling density and delaying seedling emergence. Herbicide rates can be reduced in plant mulch systems, yet still effectively control weeds.