Vol. 16 No. 1
Weed management in conservation agriculture, its issues and adoption : a review
Abstract: Conventional agriculture is tillage driven system that increases the cost of crop production, accelerates soil erosion and contributes towards climate change.These difficulties in conventional agriculture demands shift in agriculture system,and conservation agriculture (CA)become the best feasible option. CA is becoming popular as it brings sustainability of the production system without compromising crop and soil productivity. CA is based on three pillars viz., minimal mechanical tillage, permanent residue cover on the soil and crop diversification. However, adoption of CA, influences the weed population differently over conventional agriculture as tillage manipulates the weed habitat. Thus, weed management in CA possesses a great challenge for farmers. This mainly due to minimum soil disturbance resulting in most of the weed seeds remain over the top layer of soil and crop diversification brings change in weed composition. Thus shift in weed flora becomes more problematic for farmers to control it effectively under CA. In zero tillage, perennial weeds become more problematic. However, when crop residue is uniformly spread with appropriate quantity, it may suppress weed seed germination and provide a competitive advantage for crop over the weed and also help in moisture retention, lowering the soil temperature and increase in soil organic matter (SOM). Generally, the use of herbicides brings effective weed control. However, crop residue incorporation followed by the application of post-emergence herbicide is found more effective than pre-emergence herbicide.Thus under CA, herbicide efficacy depends on the time of application, formulation and quantity of application. Moreover, integrated weed management (IWM) is the best way to manage weeds effectively in an eco-friendly and cost-effective manner under CA. IWM approaches comprise crop establishment, crop rotations, use of cover crops and crop residues as mulch with a combination of pre- and post-emergence herbicides could be integrated to develop sustainable and operative weed management strategies under CA systems. However, there are some problems in the adoption of CA that are the mindset of farmers towards tillage, timely availability of improved implements, the initial purchasing power of farmers and technical knowledge.
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