Management of floral biodiversity

Of all plant species that grow in arable fields, only a few induce crop yield losses. These are dominant species that are highly competitive. The majority of the arable plant species, however, occurs at low densities and has a low competitive ability relative to the crop. They are often considered desirable because they contribute to arable biodiversity, they feed the arable food web, or they deliver ecosystem services, such as preventing nutrient losses or providing food and habitat to pollinators and natural enemies. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that the presence of these non-dominant species contributes to the suppression of the highly competitive species. Therefore, weed populations need to be managed, such that pernicious species are suppressed and desirable species maintained.

Factors that are known to influence weed community composition and diversity include abiotic factors, such as climate or soil properties, biotic factors, such as competition from the crop and other weed species, agricultural practices and landscape heterogeneity. Some of these factors are interesting as tools for managing weed species, because they can be actively manipulated by humans. These tools include crop rotations, tillage, and physical, cultural and chemical control measures. However, the relative importance of the various factors can differ between locations. It is therefore important to assess the relative ranking of each factor and identify the main factors influencing weed species composition and diversity.

The objectives of collaborative work are:

  • Collect and describe all tools in the farming toolbox
  • Search for published datasets, in which one of these farming tools is varied and the resulting weed diversity is described (species lists, abundances)
  • Explore the data and decide: (1) review the publications, (2) apply a meta-analysis

Joint activities

Proposal for a collaborative work

Is diversity in weeds tackled to the challenging questions in weed management?

Submitted by: Bärbel Gerowitt, University of Rostock, Germany
Management of
floral biodiversity
Prof. Dr. Bärbel GEROWITT

Insitute for Land Use
University of Rostock
Satower Str. 48
Tel: + 39 381 498 2200
Fax: + 39 381 498 2199

Weeds and biodiversity working group
Paula Westerman

Wageningen University and Research
Biointeraction and plant health - Field Crops
P.O. box 16, 6700 AA Wageningen
Tel: +31 320 2 91164