Uncovering the Belowground Drivers of Weed-Crop Competition for Improved Weed Management
We are investigating the effects of soil management and Nitrogen pool diversity on weed-crop competition. Previous research suggests that crops are more competitive against weeds (ie. more able to “tolerate” weeds) in organically managed compared with conventional growing systems. Many factors may contribute to this pattern, including plant resource-partitioning abilities, plant-microbe associations, and other ecological relationships. We will be conducting field experiments to quantify soil nitrogen pools and weed competition with soybean across varying soil management systems at the Cornell Organic Grain Cropping System Experiment in Aurora, NY.
The project takes an integrated and multi-scale approach, seeking to explain macro-level agroecological patterns by investigating underlying micro-level processes. By describing poorly understood ecological mechanisms and feedbacks, our research will inform the development of new integrated weed management strategies that reduce the need for herbicides and mechanical cultivation.