Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/14/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Weed management is a critical issue in sustainable agriculture because controlling weeds is intimately linked to soil erosion and herbicide contamination of water resources. The use of herbicides on our major crops, and their effects on the environment, food safety, and human health continue to be debated. Herbicides and tillage are the cornerstones of weed management in our major cropping systems because producers have few options. Reducing dependance on herbicides will be difficult for farmers until new weed control options are developed. Smother plants are specialized cover crops developed for their ability to suppress weeds and may provide an alternate method of weed control. Smother plants could become another tool for management, and may develop an avenue for more integrated approaches by using the concept of managed competition. Our objectives included: 1) defining characteristics of a successful spring-seeded smother plant system; 2) examining the feasibility of using spring-seeded smother plants as a weed management option; and 3) gaining further insight into competition-based weed management systems. Smother plants have displayed differences in their weed suppression capabilities. In corn, percent control compared with the weedy check ranged from 26 to 90% among smother plant species. In soybeans, no species provided greater than 50% control. These results imply the need for more research focused on the positive interactions to gain more insight on biological management and competitive interactions among weeds, smother plants, and the primary crop.