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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Crop Ecology & Physiology

Yield and Weed Suppression of Crop Mixtures in Organic and Conventional Systems of the Western Canadian Prairie


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 104 No. 3, p. 756-762
    Received: Nov 21, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): dean.spaner@ualberta.ca
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  1. A. G. Nelsona,
  2. A. Pswarayia,
  3. S. Quideaub,
  4. B. Frickc and
  5. D. Spaner *a
  1. a Dep. of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2P5 Canada
    b Dep. of Renewable Resources, Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H1 Canada
    c Dep. of Plant Sciences, Univ. of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A8 Canada


To investigate intercropping as a management strategy to increase crop productivity and weed suppression in organic systems, spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), canola (Brassica napus L.) and field pea (Pisum sativum L.) monocultures were compared with two-, three-, and four-crop intercrops containing wheat at two organic and one conventional site in 2006 and 2007, central Alberta, Canada. We measured crop and weed biomass, grain yield, and crop competitiveness against weeds from a replacement design in a completely randomized block experiment. Pea and canola monocrops on organic sites yielded the least of all crop treatments. Conventional crop treatments generally yielded higher than organic treatments. Few land equivalent ratios (LERs) on organic sites were significantly >1.0. Some wheat intercrops without barley showed overyielding (LER > 1.0) potential. Most of the significant LERs were from three- and four-crop intercrops. More than 50% of the intercrops on organic sites significantly suppressed weeds (based on relative weed biomass) and most of these intercrops had barley in the mixture. Barley as a sole crop and in intercrops suppressed weeds better than all other intercrops and sole crops. The wheat–canola intercrop exhibited the best weed suppression of the two-crop intercrops on organic and conventional sites. The crop densities used in this study may have contributed to the extremely low pea and canola monocrop yields as well as low LERs. Due to this, our findings should be regarded as showing trends and potential from intercrops only. We therefore recommend further studies to establish ideal densities for the intercrops used.

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