Weed Management: Why Is It Necessary?

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Weed management reduces weed infestations so the crops can be grown profitably. Weed management is essential so that farmers can conduct other farm activities efficiently.

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The underlying principle of weed management principles is consistent with the process of prevention, eradication, and control. Here, we discuss some of the standard practices that can reduce the impact of weeds on the crop.

Objectives of Weed Management

The primary objective of the weed management system is to create and maintain an env that is as unfavorable to weeds. Farmers could do it by employing preventive and control measures. They can achieve it by using physical, biological, cultural, and chemical methods alone or in combination.

The primary aim of weed removal is to manage the vegetation on water bodies and land to benefit the plants. The process should encourage the growth of plants beneficial to humans and suppress the remaining unwanted plants.

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The long-term objective of weed management – to avoid or reduce any adverse env impact of control methods. The aim is also to prevent a build-up of weed species.

Weed Management Techniques

Weed management in ornamental plant production can be complex but is essential for successful production. Yes, the same argument holds for field soil, greenhouses, or outdoor containers. As you may be aware weeds compete with the crop for plant nutrients and sunlight. But the difference is that they do not meet clean nursery quality standards.

In addition, you cannot sell ornamental plants that have large quantities of certain noxious weeds. Many growers or farmers often resort to costly hand-weeding due to their high value of ornamental crops and the limited number of herbicides available.

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However, you can adapt many of the strategies used in vegetable row crops or tree crops for use in field-grown trees. These methods can help cut down the flower production of the weeds. Planting in rows allows easy cultivation of the field mechanically or by hand.

The use of drip irrigation in shrub or tree production significantly reduces excessively wet areas. Thereby reducing the germination and growth of weeds over a period. Some control practices are common to many production methods, whether the ornamental plants are grown in fields, containers, or greenhouses. 

1. Prevention of Weeds

The most critical factor in overall weed control is preventing weed plants from developing seeds, hence the weed problem. Sources of weed introduction may include weed seeds and weedy stock in the growing area. It also includes plant remains in manure, soil, yard waste that is not decomposed, or other sources of organic matter.

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Many planters often cultivate or treat the boundaries of their property with herbicides. This technique reduces the number of windborne or water-carried seeds that may move to the growing area. You can install screens on open-water inflow sources in order to keep out the water-borne seeds. Even if you use fine-mesh screens, you must increase the surface area of the water intake. Additionally, you must perform periodic debris removal to avoid clogging water flow.  

In a true sense, prevention was initially intended to prevent exotic weeds. In a crop field situation, prevention highlights the methods – how best the seed reservoir can be exhausted. However, complete removal is a rare possibility. In this situation, you should consider the prevention methods. By preventing weeds from emerging,  thriving, preventing existing weeds from coming to seeds, tubers, rhizomes, or other approaches. 

A Popular Method

It is important to note that the weed control measure that you adopt this year could be a preventative approach for the coming year. Even certain cultural practices or methods such as stale seedbed and competitive crop methods are also good options. Besides, you can also practice spacing, irrigation, fertilization time, intercropping, crop rotation,  cover crops etc. to remove or reduce their growth. These methods can also control seed production of weeds. 

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Therefore it is important to note that prevention requires a set of practices rather than a single practice. Only then can you tackle the introduction and spread of weeds. Their effect is small, but the impact is enormous when the same methods are followed together. In addition, you need to practice it for an extended period under a particular situation.

2. Cultivation

Weed management systems for the field-grown ornamentals begin with mechanical cultivation. The process starts with irrigating the field to induce weeds to germinate and then cultivating the new seedlings. Alternatively, you can spray herbicide in the area after weed starts to grow. This would ensure that the soil is not disturbed by cultivation before planting. 

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After planting and when the crop starts to grow, you can see herbicides before the weeds come out. You need to cultivate the field between rows after germination of new weeds, or both. After harvest, cultivate again to kill the weeds. You need to do this so that they do not seed and replenish the weed seed bank.

3. Mowing

Mowing is used to prevent the uncontrolled growth of weeds and reduce the formation of seeds. The mowing technique also helps reduce the spread of weed seeds into cultivated areas. 

Properly timed mowing can also suppress perennial weeds, such as established johnsongrass. However, repeated mowing over some time (seasons or years) without any other means of weed control is beneficial. It can favor the establishment of low-growing perennial grasses. 

These low-growing perennial grasses are very competitive for water and nutrients. Additionally, species with flower heads below the level of the blade are not effectively controlled. If performed after the seed is set, mowing can spread weed seeds and increase weed problems.

4. Control

Weed control includes many techniques. They are used to limit weed growth and minimize competition. These techniques will attempt to achieve a balance between cost of control and crop yield loss.  Note that weed control is used only after the problem exists; it is not prevention. 

Weed control techniques have been adopted widely because its control is the easiest thing to do and is usually effective. The problem is known and can be seen, and actions can be tailored to the observed problem. 

Control techniques can be selected to meet short-term economic and agricultural planning goals. Control is easier to practice than prevention. Its eradication can be put/made to work well with short-term economic or cultural planning goals.

5. Flaming

Flaming technique is used before planting or on weeds between the crop rows. You must direct the flame at young weeds between the rows or use shields to avoid injuring the crop. 

Flaming can control broadleaf weeds and they can be controlled more effectively than grasses. Additionally, young weeds are better managed than older ones. Flaming is not a widely used method for weed control for field-grown flowers or nurseries due to fuel cost. But the time required to pass over the beds, potential injury to workers, and fire hazards are some of the reasons it is not used. 

6. Hand-removal

Hand-hoeing or hand-pulling weeds is always a part of crop management. It is because cultivation does not remove all weeds. Hand removal might be the only control method for a few crops. By removing a few of the remaining weeds in the harvest the competition will be less. Moreover, the plant will produce fewer weed seeds too.

7. Mulches

You can use various kinds of bark, composted yard waste, and other organic material that can help suppress annual weeds by covering the soil surface. It will prevent weed seed germination and establishment. 

You will require only 2 to 3 inches of fine organic mulch or finished yard waste to eliminate light on the soil. Thereby you can suppress the growth of weeds. One of the advantages of fine mulches is that after the crop is harvested, you can work the mulch into the ground to improve drainage, soil structure, and water-holding capacity. One primary disadvantage of fine mulch is that weed seeds that fall on it will germinate and grow.

Coarse wood chips or bark will require 3 to 6 inches of material to eliminate light. Synthetic materials (geotextiles, landscape fabrics) made of polyester or polypropylene can also be used as mulches. Still, they are used only with perennial shrubs, trees, or containers because of cost. 

For the last several years, you can either leave them on for the life of the tree or shrub or remove and reuse them. Use dark plastic mulches for weed control if you use furrow or drip irrigation.

8. Soil Solarization

Heating soil to high temperatures can kill many weed seeds. This method is called solarization. During the process bare soil is covered and moist soil with clear plastic. After which high solar radiation and temperature periods are applied. Before placing the plastic on the site, you must cultivate or closely mow any established plants and remove the clippings. In the next step, you must smoothen the soil surface and irrigate the area well. Place clear ultraviolet (UV) resistant polyethylene over the area.

You can extend it about 2 feet beyond the infested area on all sides and pull it tightly so it is close to the soil. To control weeds you must leave the plastics in place and maintained intact for 4 to 6 weeks. By soil solarization you can control most of the annual weeds.

Not well-controlled weeds include clovers, field bindweed, and purple and yellow nutsedge. Media for containers or use in greenhouses can be solarized using clear bags or flats or small, low mounds of soil covered with clear polyethylene. Beds can be solarized before planting in greenhouses. 

9. Transplants

If you use transplants instead of direct-seeding a crop – it would allow the crop to establish more quickly and be more competitive with weeds. It is also important to note that a transplant is generally more tolerant to soil-applied herbicides than germinating crop seeds.

Final Thought

Weed management is a combination of practices. By which you can control weed growth to the minimum for successful and profitable crop production. It involves prevention, control, and eradication. You can apply the concept of weed management – as a coordinated approach to a single weed species. 

The idea of weed management instead of control is essential. Weed control aims at putting down the weeds already present. Weed management is a systematic approach. Whereby you can plan the whole land use – in advance to minimize the invasion of weeds in aggressive forms. Thus giving the crops plants a full competitive advantage over the latter.

Read related topics garden tools, reproduction in plants, cross pollination, plant life cycle, soil erosion, common plant diseases, and more.

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