Investigating the efficiency of different cover crops and their elimination methods on weed populations and yield of maize forage (single-cross 444 variety)

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Agronomy department, Plant production faculty, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

2 Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Plant production, Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources


Background and Objectives: Cultivation of cover crops at the planting date intervals of two main crops may serve as a suitable ecological approach for achieving objectives such as preventing expansion of weed populations, enhancing soil fertility, decreasing soil erosion and increasing yield of crops. Different cover crops have different potentials in fulfilling the noted objectives and their elimination method at the end of growth period also affects their efficiency. Thus, this research was conducted to investigate the efficiency of some cover crops as pure and mixed stand as well as their elimination method on weed population and maize (single-cross 444 variety) forage yield.
Material and Methods: This experiment was conducted as factorial based on randomized complete blocks design with three replications. Treatments included cover crop type at 7 levels of barley, vetches, lathyrus, barley + vetches, barley+ lathyrus and weed-free and weed-infested controls and their elimination methods at the end of the growth period at three levels of spraying with paraquat herbicide, cutting and maintaining the residues on soil surface and rolling. Cover crops were sown at late January of 2017 as rows and at a rate three times more than that of recommended density. At early May of 2017 (a week before maize sowing), noted cover crops were treated according to desired management method and then maize was sown directly in residues of cover crops.
Results and Discussion: The results showed that the lowest height, leaf area, dry matter and canopy closure rate was observed in lathyrus and vetches treatments, but mixture of these cover crops with barley significantly increased these values.Also, mixed stands of barley+lathyrus and barley+vetches in cutting and rolling treatments were able to optimally control the weeds during maize growth period. Although application of herbicide successfully controlled the weeds, but was not as good as cutting and rolling. Pure stands of lathyrus and vetches had a low efficiency in controlling the weeds under herbicide management conditions. The highest fresh forage yield of maize was obtained in barley+vetches and barley+lathyrus treatments and management by rolling, which were 3278 and 3256 g.m-2, respectively. The lowest fresh forage yield was obtained in weed infested cover crop-free treatment (1884 g.m-2) which had no significant difference with pure stands of lathyrus and vetches under herbicide application management (2040 and 2082 g.m-2, respectively). Thus, it may be stated that using mixed stands of cover crops from poaceae and fabaceae is preferable to their pure stands due to enhancement of soil characteristics, rapid canopy closure, higher dry matter production and efficient control of the weeds.
Conclusion: Also, the method implemented for elimination of cover crop may lead to better weed control and higher crop yield via its direct impact on longevity of cover crop residues. Thus, rolling and cutting of barley+lathyrus and barley+vetches mixed stand cover crops may be introduced as the best method for their elimination.


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