Application of electrical capacitance measurement for in situ monitoring of competitive interactions between maize and weed plants
Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research
Applicability of root electrical capacitance (EC) measurement for monitoring of crop–weed competition was studied in a pot experiment. Maize (Zea mays L.) was grown both alone and with Echinochloa crus-galli or Abutilon theophrasti in different densities with regular measurement of root EC. Plants were harvested 42 days after planting to determine above- and belowground biomass. Depending on weed density, E. crus-galli-A. theophrasti interaction reduced the root EC of maize by 22–66% and 3–57%,
... y 22–66% and 3–57%, respectively. Competitive effect of crop on weeds and intraspecific competition among weeds could also be detected by EC values: E. crus-galli was less sensitive both to the presence of maize and to intraspecific competition than A. theophrasti. Strong linear correlations between root dry mass and root EC for crop and weeds (with R2 from 0.901 to 0.956) were obtained by regression analyses at the end of the experiment. EC monitoring informed us on the emergence time of competition: E. crus-galli interfered with maize root growth a week earlier then A. theophrasti, and increasing weed densities accelerated the emergence of competition. In conclusion, the simple, non-destructive EC method should be considered a potential in situ technique for pot studies on crop–weed competition, which may partially substitute the intrusive techniques commonly used in agricultural researches.