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Doctoral thesis, 2015

Resource efficient control of Elymus repens

Ringselle, Björn


Elymus repens is a perennial grass weed that causes great yield losses in a variety of crops in the southern and northern temperate zones. Primary control methods for E. repens are herbicides or intensive tillage, both of which have a number of negative side-effects, e.g. herbicides can contaminate groundwater, and tillage can cause increased nitrogen leaching. The aim of this thesis was to investigate how to make non- herbicide control of Elymus repens more resource efficient in terms of less energy demanding soil cultivation and reduced nitrogen leaching. Three field experiments were used to test cover crop competition, mowing and different types of optimised tillage techniques and timing, as well as the combination of under-sown cover crops and mowing or row hoeing. The growth, biomass allocation and morphological responses of E. repens to competition were studied in a greenhouse experiment. The effect of competition from under-sown cover crops on E. repens seems to depend greatly on the cover crop biomass achieved. At high biomass levels, the cover crop can be highly suppressive (Paper IV) and reduce nitrogen leaching (Paper III), while at low levels they can still provide benefits such as reduced E. repens shoot biomass and increased subsequent cereal yield (Paper I). However, a low-yielding red clover cover crop increased E. repens rhizome production by 20-30%. Under-sown cover crops were successfully combined with both mowing and row hoeing (Paper I & III), but while repeated mowing reduced E. repens rhizome production by 35% it could not be shown to give a competitive advantage to the cover crops over E. repens (Paper I). However, the low nitrogen leaching and reduced downward transport of nitrogen when mowing or row hoeing was combined with under-sown cover crops make them interesting control methods for future research. Delaying tine cultivation by a few days after harvest did not reduce E. repens control, but a delay by 20 days tended to result in higher E. repens rhizome biomass and shoot densities, compared to performing it within a few days of harvest. Repeated tine cultivation did not improve control of E. repens or increase subsequent cereal yield, compared to a single cultivation directly after harvest. Repeated cultivation during autumn should therefore not be used categorically, but only when there is reason to believe the shoots will pass the compensation point due to the autumn conditions. We conclude that a site specific approach is necessary to achieve resource efficient control of E. repens.


Elytrigia repens; Agropyron repens; mowing; mechanical control; perennial weeds; organic farming; nitrogen leaching; competition; cover crops; soil tillage

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2015, number: 2015:36
ISBN: 978-91-576-8270-3, eISBN: 978-91-576-8271-0
Publisher: Department of Crop Production Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Ringselle, Björn
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Crop Production Ecology

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

URI (permanent link to this page)