Abstract

Creeping perennial weeds are of major concern in organically grown cereals. In the present study, the effects of different timing of mouldboard ploughing with or without a preceding stubble cultivation period, on weeds and spring cereals were studied. The experiments were conducted at two sites in Norway during a two and three-year period, respectively, with the treatments repeated on the same plots. The soil cultivation treatments were a stubble disc-harrowing cultivation period followed by mouldboard ploughing and only mouldboard ploughing. The timing of the treatments were autumn or spring. The density and biomass of the aboveground shoots of Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop., Elymus repens (L.) Gould, Sonchus arvensis L. and Stachys palustris L. as well as the total aboveground biomass of the spring cereal crop (oats) were assessed. The control efficiency of C. arvense and S. arvensis was closely related to timing of the cultivation treatments. Cultivation in spring decreased the population of C. arvense and S. arvensis compared to autumn cultivation. For E. repens, timing of the treatments had no significant effect: the important factor was whether stubble cultivation was carried out (best control) or not. The overall best strategy for controlling the present perennial weed population was stubble cultivation followed by ploughing in spring. However, the associated relative late sowing of the spring cereal crop and lowered crop biomass, were important drawbacks.