Effects of Reduced and Conventional Tillage on Weed Communities: Results of a Long-Term Experiment in Southwestern Spain

ABSTRACT: An important drawback in adopting minimum tillage (MT) and no-tillage (NT) techniques is the frequently observed weed shift promoting adapted species and achieving poorer weed control. These changes can be detected best with long-term experiments, and results might differ depending on soil characteristics and the local flora. The objectives of this work were to evaluate the effect of reduced tillage on weed seed distribution in the soil profile and to identify possible consequences on weed diversity on a long-term experiment maintained during 24 years in Seville (Spain) with three tillage systems: NT, MT and conventional tillage (CT) including moldboard plow on a vertisol. For this purpose, soil seedbanks at 0-8 cm and 8-16 cm depths were enumerated in autumn 2005 and in-field emerged plants in autumn 2005 and winter 2006. Shannon diversity index (H) and evenness (J’) were calculated for seedbank and aboveground weed communities. Total weed seed density was highest for NT and lowest for CT. Some big-seeded species, such as Chrozophora tinctorea L., showed highest seed density in CT. NT increased the relative density of Amaranthus blitoides S. Watson seeds in the seedbank and the abundance of emerged plants of Malva parviflora L., Anagallis arvensis L. and Picris echioides L. Overall, MT led to a less diverse seedbank in the 0-8 cm depth of soil than CT. The frequent drought-induced deep fractures in the expandable clay soil caused natural tillage, which probably resulted in fewer differences in weed seed and seedling densities among tillage treatments compared to what might be expected in other soil types.