Competition For Nutrients

Anatomical and physiological differences between crop species and even between crop cultivars that influence their competitive abilities against weeds are beginning to be explored. So also are the capacities of weeds to compete with each other for resources. These interactions potentially offer means by which the crop and weed relationship can be manipulated to the advantage of the former through their respective nutritional demands. This is because crops and weeds may compete for nutrient resources at different levels of effectiveness. Brassica crops, for example, are better competitors for soil nutrients than many other field vegetables (Chapter 5). In turn, it is known that cabbage plants have a considerable effect on the growth of various aggressive weed species such as C. album (fat hen) and to a lesser extent with Senecio vulgaris (groundsel).

The presence of the crop plant markedly reduced the seed weight produced by C. album (Oasem and Hill, 1993). An aim of future plant breeding programmes may, therefore, be to develop cultivars that are sufficiently vigorous to be capable of out-competing weeds because of their increased efficiency in utilizing nutrients and water from the soil.

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