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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Comparison of monocultures of perennial sow-thistle and spring barley in estimated shoot radiation-use and nitrogen-uptake efficiencies

Eckersten, Henrik; Lundkvist, Anneli; Torssell, Bengt


Shoot radiation-use efficiency (RUE) and nitrogen-uptake efficiency (UPE) of monocultures of perennial sow-thistle (Sonchus arvensis L.) and spring barley (Hordeum distichon L.) were quantified to assess the significance of these traits for the relative performance of the two species. RUE and UPE were derived for shoot growth and N uptake by calibrating a mechanistic model to above-ground biomass and N observations in an outdoor box experiment, conducted during two years at two soil nitrogen levels in Central Sweden. The model, which is driven by climate variables, predicts above-ground biomass and nitrogen increment as a function of intercepted radiation, temperature, and nitrogen availability. Observed values of leaf area and root development are used as input. Shoot RUE in S. arvensis was only 56% of the RUE in spring barley (1.35 and 2.40 g dry weight MJ-1, respectively). On the other hand, shoot UPE in S. arvensis at low N supply during early season was seven times higher than in barley (0.07 and 0.01 d-1, respectively). For S. arvensis, UPE was higher at the low soil nitrogen level than at high level, while the reverse was found for barley, at a given amount of biomass per area unit. We suggest that the higher shoot UPE in S. arvensis at low nitrogen supply, in comparison with the low UPE of annual small grain crops at low soil nitrogen levels, is a contributing cause for the observed increase in S. arvensis in organic farming.


Calibration; Hordeum distichon L; mechanistic growth model; nitrogen availability; parameterization; perennial weed; plant nitrogen demand; RUE; Sonchus arvensis L

Published in

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B - Soil and Plant Science
2010, Volume: 60, number: 2, pages: 126-135