Plant diversity greatly enhances weed suppression in intensively managed grasslands

J. Connolly, M. T. Sebastià, L. Kirwan, J. A. Finn, R. Llurba, M. Suter, Rosemary Collins, Claudio Porqueddu, Á. Helgadóttir, O. H. Baadshaug, G. Bélanger, A. Black, C. Brophy, J. Čop, S. Dalmannsdóttir, I. Delgado, A. Elgersma, M. Fothergill, B. E. Frankow-Lindberg, A. GhesquiereP. Golinski, P. Grieu, A-M Gustavsson, M. Höglind, O. Huguenin-Elie, M. Jørgensen, Z. Kadziuliene, T. Lunnan, P. Nykanen-Kurki, A. Ribas, F. Taube, U. Thumm, A. Lüscher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Proceeding (Non-Journal item)

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Weed suppression was investigated in a field experiment across 31 international sites. The study included 15 plant communities at each site, based on two grasses and two legumes, each sown in monoculture and 11 four-species mixtures varying in the relative proportions of the four species. At each site, one
grass and one legume species was selected as fast establishing and the other two species were selected for persistence. Average weed biomass in mixtures over the whole experiment was 52% less (95% confidence interval, 30 to 75%) than in the most suppressive monoculture (transgressive suppression). Transgressive suppression of weed biomass persisted over each year for each mixture. Weed biomass was consistently low and relatively similar across all mixtures and years. Average sown species biomass was greater in all
mixtures than in any monoculture. The suppressive effect of sown forage species on weeds in mixtures was achieved without any herbicide use. At each site, weed biomass for almost every mixture was lower than the average across the four monocultures. The average proportion of weed biomass in mixtures was
less than in the most suppressive monoculture in two thirds of sites. Mixtures outyielded monocultures, and mixture yield comprised far lower weed biomass
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 27th General Meeting of the European Grassland Federation
Subtitle of host publicationSustainable meat and milk production from grasslands
EditorsB. Horan, D. Hennessy, M. O'Donovan, E. Kennedy, B. McCarthy, J. A. Finn, B. O'Brien
PublisherEuropean Grassland Federation
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-84170-644-3
ISBN (Print)978-1-84170-643-6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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