Do cover crops actually help suppress weeds?

I did a bit of reading to try to find evidence to back up the idea that by growing a cover crop and creating a mulch which suppresses weed one could reduce or eliminate herbicide usage. One paper suggested that their cover crop mulch reduced weed numbers by 78% but had no effect on total weed biomass (i.e. each weed has less competition and so grew more vigorously). If one was using herbicides then this last finding might be useful. Reducing the density is useful because there are simply less individual weeds to kill, although perhaps if each is more vigorous the efficacity of the spray might be reduced.

So the question is whether it is a naive hope that cover crops can make huge inroads in reducing herbicide usage? Rather might they simply be one extra tool in a very large toolchest which is required to stay on top of problem weeds?

For:

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4 ... 1634365323
http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/searc ... ;US9745251

Against:

http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/con ... /410.short
http://www.wssajournals.org/doi/abs/10. ... 2.0.CO%3B2
http://link.springer.com/article/10.100 ... 10?LI=true
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3 ... 1634365323

Thoughts and experiences please!
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
Not more homework! I haven't finished Hands on Agronomy yet...
Rather lost the thread on the second 'against' paper (the wssajournal one) when they said they were harvesting 4.3 Million tonnes of biomass per hectare. Some cover!
 
Take this paper:

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/4 ... 1634365323

It makes me wonder, if the cover crop is good at suppressing weeds, is it also good at suppressing the cash crop as well?!

Rye, for example, has allelopathic effects on weeds but there is also some evidence which suggests it does the same on the cash crop. Is it possible to somehow get the best of both worlds? I'm not so sure.

Cross slot boasts that it retains the cover over the seed row but might it not be better to actually give the cash crop some space so that it can actually grow?
 

BSH

Member
BASE UK Member
I would have thought that there was quite a lot of evidence of organic growers using mulchs to cover weeds and let crops get away to say that it definately works. It does though I imagine work best with crops that are large seeded and rapid gowing that subsequently provide shading or their own allelopathic influence on the weeds when they come throught the mulch. So Pumpkins and maize work well. I think a cover crop of many species will help to reduce weeds by out competing them as well. Certainly that is my experience of using complex herbal leys in an organic situation.
 

NI agri-food stakeholder groups discuss climate change bill with committee

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Written by Richard Halleron from Agriland

The Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) recently submitted oral evidence to members of the Stormont Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (AERA) committee on the content and potential impact of the Northern Ireland Climate Change Bill (No.2).

This draft legislation was recently introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in conjunction with agriculture minister, Edwin Poots.

“We were accompanied by representatives from a wide range of food industry bodies, including the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters’ Association,the Ulster Farmers’ Union [UFU], Northern...
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