• Barley;
  • biodiversity;
  • composted manure;
  • herbicides;
  • mineral fertilisers;
  • weed harrowing


The effects of weed control practices and fertilisation on weed flora and crop yield were evaluated in crop edges of barley fields in northeastern Spain. The study was carried out in four organic and four conventional barley fields. In each field, four permanent plots were delimited at the crop edge, and fertilisation and weed control treatments in a factorial design were applied over 3 years. Weed composition and the aboveground biomass of weeds and barley were recorded before the crop harvest in the first and the third year. We found relatively low values of species richness per field, as well as low values of weed biomass, especially in the organic crop edges (3.9% of total biomass). Weeds were significantly reduced by herbicide applications on conventional fields and were not affected by weed harrowing on organic fields or fertilisation. These results demonstrate that specific measures are needed to enhance biodiversity at crop edges both in organic and conventional fields. Our results also suggest that under Mediterranean conditions and among impoverished weed communities, limiting the use of herbicides is crucial to enhancing arable diversity and that, contrary to findings found in previous studies in temperate climates, fertilisation and weed harrowing have little effect on weeds.