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The impacts of traditional and novel herbicide application methods on target plants, non-target plants and production in intensive grasslands

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Eileen Power


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Herbicides contribute significantly to agricultural intensification, but some negatively impact non-target organisms. Much research has focused on reducing herbicide use through technological improvements in application and herbicide selectivity, but impacts on non-target organisms are less well understood. Using experimental plots in silage systems, we investigated impacts of herbicides (both narrow spectrum targeting broad-leaved plants and selective and non-selective broad spectrum) applied using traditional techniques (blanket- and manual spot-spraying) and a novel application technique (automated spot-spraying) on non-target plant richness/diversity, target weed presence (Rumex species) and production (DM yield). All herbicides reduced non-target plant richness/diversity and sometimes target weeds (when applied using traditional methods). Automated spot-spraying had fewer negative effects on non-target organisms, but did not reduce target weeds. No differences in production levels among treatments were observed. The automated spot-spraying technique requires further research and development. Our results indicate that 20–30% weed cover does not significantly alter production and so, as herbicides are expensive, their effects on non-target organisms and the environment can be more significant than their benefits to production. We advocate more research into the relationships between weed infestation and production in grasslands, so that the propensity to overuse herbicides is reduced.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Power EF, Kelly DL, Stout JC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Weed Research

Year: 2013

Volume: 53

Issue: 2

Pages: 131-139

Print publication date: 01/04/2013

Online publication date: 15/02/2013

Acceptance date: 29/10/2012

ISSN (print): 0043-1737

ISSN (electronic): 1365-3180

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/wre.12009


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