Soil weed seed bank and factors influencing the number of weeds at the end of conversion period to organic production
Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreutzwaldi 1, EE51014 Tartu, Estonia *Correspondence: email@example.com
In 2008 an experiment was set up on the field in Eerika experimental station (Estonian University of Life Sciences) as a 5-field crop rotation: red clover, winter wheat, pea, potato and barley undersown with red clover. The objective of the study was to measure the content of weed seeds in the soil and to evaluate the diversity of the species at the end of the period of converting to organic production. In conventional farming systems without fertilizer (Conv I) and conventional farming with mineral fertilizer (Conv II) herbicides were used for weed control. All the crops in Conv II system received P 25 kg ha-1 and K 95 kg ha-1, but the application rates of mineral nitrogen fertilizer differed. In organic systems (Org I – organic farming based on winter cover crop and Org II – organic farming based on winter cover crop and manure), the winter cover crops (ryegrass after winter wheat, winter oilseed rape after pea, winter rye after potato) were sown after the harvest and were ploughed into the soil as green manure in spring. The content of annual weed seeds was the lowest in red clover that had 17.7% less weed seeds in the soil of Org II system compared to control (Conv I). In winter wheat the content of winter annual weed seeds was 50–76% higher compared to other crops. By the end of 2009 the content of organic carbon (Corg %) in the soil had increased significantly in both organic systems which results in higher activity of organisms that decrease the viability of weed seeds.