Sans FX, Berner A, Armengot L & Mäder P (2011). Tillage effects on weed communities in an organic winter wheat–sunflower–spelt cropping sequence. Weed Research51, 413–421.
Conservation tillage could provide environmental benefits to organic farming. However, potential weed problems often tend to discourage farmers from adopting it. The effects of tillage (reduced vs. conventional), fertilisation (slurry vs. manure compost) and the application of biodynamic preparations (with and without) on crop yield and on weed cover, diversity and biological attributes were investigated in a cropping sequence of wheat, sunflower and spelt. Total weed cover and perennial cover in reduced tillage treatments were two to three times greater than in conventional treatments. Monocotyledon cover in reduced tillage was three times that in conventional tillage in spelt, whereas the dicotyledon Stellaria media dominated in sunflower. Weed diversity was similar across treatments, regardless of cereal crop, whereas lower diversity values were observed with reduced tillage in sunflower, because of the dominance of S. media. There was virtually no effect of fertilisation and biodynamic preparations on weed parameters. Although wheat and spelt yield decreased in reduced tillage plots (14% and 8% respectively), the sunflower grain yield was unaffected. Reduced tillage could thus be useful in organic cropping systems but would require proper management of perennial and monocotyledonous weeds, which are often problematic for annual crops.