Weed community trajectories in cereal and willow cultivations after termination of a willow short rotation coppice
Department of Crop Production Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, P.O. Box 7043, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
According to guidelines for willow short rotation coppice (SRC), weeding is needed during establishment, while weed populations which develop later under a well-established willow canopy do not require control. However, farmers are concerned that weeds which develop in SRC may result in long-lasting weed infestations in succeeding crops after SRC termination. We assessed the effects of two SRC-termination methods (with shallow and deep soil cultivation) on the development of the weed flora in a cereal system (CS) and in SRC during six seasons. Richness, ground cover, life-cycle strategy and composition of the weed species, and their environmental requirements (inferred from Ellenberg index) were evaluated.
SRC-termination method had no effect on the weed community trajectories in the succeeding SRC and CS. However, cropping system and growing season had significant impacts on species richness, ground cover and composition of the weed flora.
Differences in weed communities over time and between cropping systems were related to the impact of cropping systems on factors such as light, soil moisture, nitrogen level, and soil reaction, as inferred from the Ellenberg index. After termination of the old willow cultivation, the weed flora of the SRC and CS rapidly diverged and approached the weed flora characteristic for old willow stands and non-weeded old cereal plot, respectively. We conclude that willow stands can be converted, regardless of termination method, either into willow or cereal cultivations without additional risk of weed infestations other than those specific for their respective cropping systems. Furthermore, willow cultivations in agriculture contribute to floristic diversity at the landscape scale.