|Authors: ||C. Mirabelli, G. Colla, A. Fiorillo, M. Cardarelli, Y. Rouphael, R. Paolini|
|Keywords: ||Solanum tuberosum L., non-chemical weed control, water management, organic production, commercial tuber yield, tuber size uniformity|
An experiment was conducted in 2003 in Viterbo (Central Italy) to check the effects of different mechanical weed control techniques and irrigation methods in organic potato.
A split-plot design in randomized blocks was applied, with the irrigation method (drip or sprinkler) in main plots and the control treatment (hoeing, hoeing + hilling, absence of control and weed-free crop) in subplots.
The cultivar ‘Desiree’ was planted on 28 March at a density of 6.7 plants m-2. Total water supply was 420 and 336 mm for sprinkler and drip irrigation respectively.
Irrespective of irrigation method, both mechanical control techniques strongly reduced weed density (by 75% on average compared to the absence of control), but only hoeing + hilling strongly suppressed weed biomass (65 vs 45% of hoeing). Both treatments gave clear biomass suppression, 67% on average, of the main species (Chenopodium album). Total and commercial tuber yield decrease compared to weed-free crop was 20.9% for hoeing and 12.4% for hoeing + hilling, thus giving acceptable weed control and yield decrease, while also favoured tuber size and uniformity.
Compared to sprinkler irrigation drip irrigation reduced weed density and biomass (by 33 and 45% on average) and increased total and commercial tuber yield (by 50% on average) and medium and higher-diameter tuber yield portion, allowing 25% water saving.
Results suggest that one hoeing + hilling during the cycle can be a good weed control strategy in organic potato under moderate weed infestation levels, while drip irrigation seems more suitable than sprinkler irrigation.
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