Non-chemical weed management in organic farming systems


Dr Andrea C Grundy, Crop & Weed Science, Horticulture Research International Wellesbourne, Warwick CV35 9EF, UK. Tel: (+44) 789 470382; Fax: (+44) 1789 470552; E-mail:


Concern about potential increases in weed populations without the use of herbicides has limited the uptake of organic farming. However, as both public demands for organic produce and the profile of organic farming have increased in recent years, so too has the range of weed control options. Progress in cultural methods of weed control has included the use of novel weed-suppressing cover crops, and the identification of specific crop traits for weed suppression. Direct weed control has also seen developments, with new implements appearing on the market that could benefit in the future from sophisticated machine guidance and weed detection technology. Advances in novel techniques such as steaming have also been made. Many weed control operations in organic systems present the grower with conflicts, and both these and many of the most recent developments in organic weed control are reviewed. An increase in our understanding of weed biology and population dynamics underpins long-term improvements in sustainable weed control. The outcome of these studies will benefit conventional and organic growers alike. Emphasis is given to the need for flexibility and a combination of weed biology knowledge, cultural methods and direct weed control to maintain weed populations at manageable levels.