The last paper to be generated from the large-scale, multi-year, collaborative research I participated in as a postdoc at Montana State University in the Menalled Lab in 2016 has finally been accepted for publication! At the time, I was working on the soil bacteria associated with winter wheat crops under different simulated climate change scenarios, and with added stressors like weed competition and different farming strategies. I was part of a large team of researchers looking at various aspects of agricultural stressors on long-term food production, including several agroecologists who led the development of this paper.
Weed communities in winter wheat: responses to cropping systems and predicted warmer and drier climate conditions.
Tim Seipel, Suzanne L. Ishaq, Christian Larson, Fabian D. Menalled. Sustainability 2022, 14(11), 6880; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116880. Special Issue “Sustainable Weed Control in the Agroecosystems“
Understanding the impact of biological and environmental stressors on cropping systems is essential to secure the long-term sustainability of agricultural production in the face of unprecedented climatic conditions. This study evaluated the effect of increased soil temperature and reduced moisture across three contrasting cropping systems: a no-till chemically managed system, a tilled organic system, and an organic system that used grazing to reduce tillage intensity. Results showed that while cropping system characteristics represent a major driver in structuring weed communities, the short-term impact of changes in temperature and moisture conditions appear to be more subtle. Weed community responses to temperature and moisture manipulations differed across variables: while biomass, species richness, and Simpson’s diversity estimates were not affected by temperature and moisture conditions, we observed a minor but significant shift in weed community composition. Higher weed biomass was recorded in the grazed/reduced-till organic system compared with the tilled-organic and no-till chemically managed systems. Weed communities in the two organic systems were more diverse than in the no-till conventional system, but an increased abundance in perennial species such as Cirsium arvense and Taraxacum officinale in the grazed/reduced-till organic system could hinder the adoption of integrated crop-livestock production tactics. Species composition of the no-till conventional weed communities showed low species richness and diversity, and was encompassed in the grazed/reduced-till organic communities. The weed communities of the no-till conventional and grazed/reduced-till organic systems were distinct from the tilled organic community, underscoring the effect that tillage has on the assembly of weed communities. Results highlight the importance of understanding the ecological mechanisms structuring weed communities, and integrating multiple tactics to reduce off-farm inputs while managing weeds.
The related works from that project include:
- Dryland cropping systems, weed communities, and disease status modulate the effect of climate conditions on wheat soil bacterial communities.
- Soil bacterial communities of wheat vary across the growing season and among dryland farming systems.
- Agroecosystem resilience is modified by management system via plant–soil feedbacks
- A living soil inoculum increases soil microbial diversity, crop and weed growth using soil from organic and conventional farms in northeastern Montana.
Similar work has been done by that group, including: