Agroecological service crops managed with roller crimper reduce weed density and weed species richness in organic vegetable systems across Europe
Agroecological service crops are introduced into the vegetable crop rotation to provide agroecosystem services, and are a key strategy for weed management in organic systems. Organic farmers across Europe usually terminate these crops before cultivation of the subsequent cash crop, using them as green manure. Recently, the in-line tillage-roller crimper has attracted interest across Europe. It allows flattening the agroecological service crops and creates a narrow furrow that facilitates the fertilization and transplantation of organic vegetables. In Europe, most of the research on this technology has been carried out in Italy, and no studies are available analyzing its effect on weed density, weed species richness, and community composition in different vegetable crops, soils, and climatic conditions across Europe. We compared the effects of the usage of in-line tillage-roller crimper versus green manure on the weed abundance, species richness, and community composition in fourteen original datasets from five countries over 2 years. The support for a common effect of in-line tillage-roller crimper across trials was tested by means of a meta-analytic approach based on a weighted version of Stouffer’s method. Our results indicate that in-line tillage-roller crimper management reduced weed density by 35.1% on average in comparison with green manure, and this trend was significant across trials. Moreover, we document a significant reduction of weed species richness under this technique and significant but, in general, minor changes in the weed community composition across the trials. Therefore, this study provides for the first time a solid evidence of the effectiveness of this management technique to reduce weed density at the early stages of crop growth across a wide range of vegetable systems and production conditions in Europe. Nonetheless, it is important to note that the effect of this technology can be strongly affected by variations in cropping conditions.
KeywordsAgroecological service crops In-line tillage Mulch Community composition
David Navarro-Miró contributed to the design of the work, collected and analyzed the data, interpreted the results, and drafted the article. José M. Blanco-Moreno contributed to the analysis of data, the interpretation of the results, and the drafting of the article. Corrado Ciaccia contributed to the conception and design of the work and collected and analyzed data. Lourdes Chamorro, Hanne Lakkenborg Kristensen, Margita Hefner, Kalvi Tamm, Elena Testani, Ingrid Bender, Urška Lisec, Martina Bavec, Hélène Vedie, and Līga Lepse contributed to the design and management of the experiments and collection of data in each country. Stefano Canali (SoilVeg project coordinator) conceived the trans-national, multisite, and multi-season dimension of the entire experiment. F. Xavier Sans had a major role in the conception and design of the work, data analysis, and interpretation of the results and contributed to drafting the article. All the authors critically revised the final manuscript.
The project SoilVeg (http://projects.au.dk/coreorganicplus/research-projects/soilveg/) is funded by ERA-Net CORE Organic Plus Funding Bodies partners of the European Union’s FP7 research and innovation program under the grant agreement no. 618107. DNM was funded by a PhD grant from the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte from Spain (FPU14/03868).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
The findings and conclusions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte of Spain, or any of the EU funding bodies.
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