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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Altered Nitrogen Availability in Pea-Barley Sole- and Intercrops Changes Dominance of Two Nitrophilic Weed Species

Jack, Ortrud; Ajal, James; Weih, Martin


Effective and sustainable weed management in agricultural fields is a prerequisite for increasing crop yield without negatively impacting the environment. The aim of this study was to explore how varying nitrogen (N) availability in cropping arrangements of pea (Pisum sativum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare) grown as sole crops and intercrops at different fertilization levels and considering different N sources (soil mineralization, N fixation, N fertilizer) affects the response of weed species with differential N responsiveness. Crop and weed biomass were sampled at flowering and maturity. The total N content and N-15 isotope signatures were analyzed to differentiate between N sources and to estimate the amount of N available to weeds. The highly N-responsive weed (Chenopodium album) accumulated more N and biomass than the weed with reduced N responsiveness (Galeopsis spp.). Fertilizer supply favored Chenopodium album, but not the crops. Altered soil N availability caused a shift in the dominance of the nitrophilic weed species towards the highly N-responsive species. This shift in dominance could affect the long-term weed community composition and thus have implications for sustainable weed management.


crop-weed interaction; nitrogen availability; intercropping; weed nitrogen uptake; N-15; plant-plant interaction; isotope technique

Published in

2021, Volume: 11, number: 4, article number: 679
Publisher: MDPI