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Modified Sowing Patterns Control Weed Growth Naturally

International Business Times, Jan. 19, 2015 by Jenny Michelle Panganiban: Pest control is integral in crop production to ensure optimum yield. For many years, people have been exploring ways to protect crops from harmful insects and invasive plants. In a new study, ecologists at the University of Copenhagen's Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences have demonstrated how weed control can be done more efficiently by changing seeding patterns and crop density. This technique makes crops dominate over weeds in plantations. The researcher team observed how sowing wheat and corn in grid patterns restrained weed growth.

Results of this study were based on researches conducted in Columbian corn plantations and wheat fields in Denmark.  Both areas employed changes in sowing patterns and spacing of crops which resulted in lesser weed biomass. There was 72 percent reduction in weed growth and 45 percent increase in crop yields in fields that tend to be infested by unwanted plants. Crop density gives the soil a natural protection from erosion and retains moisture.  It also enables crops to maximize field space and soil nutrients. The technique gives crops a good competitive advantage to overpower invasive weeds.

Conventional farming practices usually sow crops in rows.  Unwanted plants are likely to grow in this kind of pattern. To supress such growth, herbicides and farm machineries are used by crop growers. However, these implements are known to have destructive effects on other life forms and on the environment.  In some countries, farm workers are hired to do hand weeding, but this entails added capital as well. With altered sowing techniques, stubborn weeds would have a hard time competing against crops. Consequently, there is higher yield and less management needed in the production.

Professor Jacob Weiner, a plant ecologist and co-author of the study states that findings suggests the feasibility of crop protection in a more ecological method while aiming for optimal grain yield.  Also, further studies on plant relationships is recommended to develop new technologies that improve farming systems. The research was coordinated with Jorge Tadeo Lozano University in Colombia and was published in the journal of Weed Research on October 2014.

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