Weed species diversity and community composition in cropping practices at two intensity levels – a six-year experiment
- Cite this article as:
- Hyvönen, T. & Salonen, J. Plant Ecology (2002) 159: 73. doi:10.1023/A:1015580722191
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Alternative cropping practices can be expected to increase the diversity and change the species composition of weed communities. In a six-year field experiment we compared species diversity and species composition in the weed community of cereal fields cultivated by conventional and by low-input cropping methods. In the conventional cropping both mineral fertilizers and herbicides were applied but in the low-input cropping the fertlizer was manure and herbicides were avoided altogether. The level of nitrogen fertilization was higher in conventional cropping. A five-year crop rotation comprising rye, oat-pea, barley and two-year grasslands was used in both cropping methods. We found that the species pool was larger (42 vs 35 species) and the average number of species higher (20.2 vs 13.1 species) in low-input than in conventional cropping. This was the case both in the data pooled across crops and in each crop separately. Herbicides affected species diversity and species composition more than did nitrogen fertilization. Species susceptible to the herbicides applied declined in abundance, which resulted in more skewed dominance patterns in the communities of conventional fields than in those of low-input fields. The crop affected the species composition of weed communities more than did the cropping method. Our results suggest that weed species diversity could be promoted by using low-intensity cropping practices.