Perennial forage legume cultivation and their above-ground mass management methods for weed suppression in arable organic cropping systems

Aušra Arlauskienė, Danutė Jablonskytė-Raščė, Lina Šarūnaitė, Monika Toleikienė, Laura Masilionytė, Viktorija Gecaitė, Žydrė Kadžiulienė
2021 Chemical and Biological Technologies in Agriculture  
Background In organic crop farms, growing crop yields are limited by insufficient nitrogen supply to plants and crop weediness. In such farms, legume swards are proposed as a service crop to improve nitrogen cycling. However, a positive effect of nitrogen is not only on cereals but also on weeds. In crop rotation, legume swards can stimulate the competition of cereals using the above-ground mass of legume to control the spread of weeds. The effects of the following methods for weeds control
more » ... r weeds control were analyzed: (i) forage legumes (Trifolium pratense L. and T. repens) undersown in cereals, (ii) forage legumes (T. pratense L., Medicago sativa L.) and their mixture with festulolium (x Festuliolium) and their above-ground mass management methods, and (iii) plant-based fertilizers (red clover above-ground mass fermented and composted). Results Oat with red clover undersown reduced weediness more than red clover monocrops, pea, and their mixture with oats. Incorporated undersown white clover mass increased spring barley competitiveness with weeds. When growing legume swards for a longer period of time (green fallow), red clover and their mixture with festulolium are the most suitable for this purpose. The lowest weed dry weight (average 34%, compared with the removal from the field) was obtained while using the mixed management. The cultivation of cereals after forage legumes and their mixtures with festulolium (as a preceding crop) increases its grain yield and competitive ability against weeds. Fermented red clover and fermented pea and spring wheat mixture mass, as a manure, did not increase weediness. Conclusions It was concluded that the effectiveness of the perennial forage legumes is determined by the uses of the above-ground mass: soil cover, mulching, application of green manure, and intensity of mass mineralization. Type of activity of forage legumes on weeds were competition for environmental resources, disruption/promotion of germination, destruction of above-ground mass, reduction of the amount of matured seeds, creation of a physical barrier (mulch), and increase of competitiveness of cereals. Growing forage legumes in pure crops usually leads to a loss of marketable production. Graphic abstract
doi:10.1186/s40538-021-00228-5 fatcat:bwv3awlddffevbwuxffyv27wye