High Sunflower Densities as a Weed Control Strategy in an Integrated Crop-Livestock System
ABSTRACT: Sunflower is an important crop for Integrated Crop-livestock Systems (ILCS), and one of the main management difficulties identified in this crop is weed control, especially under no-till conditions when chemical weed control is not allowed. Therefore, the aim of this research was to evaluate the effect of greater sunflower population density on weed control, and its impact on sunflower yield, in an ILCS with eucalyptus in an Environmental Protection Area. Two population densities were tested (45 and 90 thousand pl. ha-1) in two crop systems (sunflower monoculture and sunflower-eucalyptus integration). An additional treatment was provided in the sunflower-eucalyptus integration, and 5 positions (2,4; 4,8; 7,2; 9,6; and 12 m) between the tree rows were evaluated. In a randomized block design, with eight repetitions, weed density and weed dry matter were determined at 40, 70 and 100 days after crop emergence. Also, phytosociological indices were calculated. The following yield components were evaluated: head diameter, number of achenes per head, and 1000-achene weight. There was lower weed infestation on the high density treatment in both systems. There was no difference of weed occurrence in the 5 positions between the tree rows. Sunflower yield was higher in the greatest population density in both systems. Increasing population density in sunflower crop is a practicable management to control weeds and to gain higher yield under free-herbicide conditions.