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Research article2011Peer reviewedOpen access

Modelling species competition in mixtures of perennial sow-thistle and spring barley based on shoot radiation use efficiency

Eckersten, Henrik; Lundkvist, Anneli; Torssell, Bengt; Verwijst, Theo


Perennial sow-thistle (Sonchus arvensis L.) may be a serious weed in organic and conventional farming. To assess the effects of radiation acquisition and resource allocation on competitive ability, S. arvensis was grown together with spring barley (Hordeum distichon L.) in six mixtures in a replacement series with initial above-ground biomass proportions of S. arvensis ranging from 2% to 96%. A one-season experiment was made outdoors in boxes in Uppsala, Sweden, at a low level of nitrogen supply (5 g N m(-2)). The study tested the predictability of shoot biomass of each species based on two principal assumptions: (i) growth model parameters derived from species in monocultures could be applied in mixtures, and (ii) radiation in the mixed stand was partitioned between species proportional to their leaf area. Calibration of two parameters, for scaling of shoot radiation use efficiency and radiation partitioning respectively, were the base for the evaluation. When the coefficients were close to unity, which was the case for all mixtures dominated by barley, and for one of the mixtures with high proportion of S. arvensis in the early season, observed and predicted shoot biomass coincided well. For the evenly composed mixtures, total shoot biomass was underestimated (the scaling coefficient of shoot radiation use efficiency was > 1), whereas the relative composition among species was predicted well. In the late season the principal model assumptions were not applicable to S. arvensis, likely due to increasing root allocation not accounted for in the model. Sonchus arvensis in mixtures with high proportions was planted early in relation to sowing of barley, which resulted in a comparably late development stage of S. arvensis. Consequently the relation between species development stages varied with species composition suggesting a need to introduce effects of differences in development stage into the model.


Competition; Hordeum distichon L.; LAI; parameterization; perennial weed; radiation allocation; RUE; Sonchus arvensis L.; temperature sum

Published in

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B - Soil and Plant Science
2011, Volume: 61, number: 8, pages: 739-746