Combine harvesters have the potential to disperse weed seeds great distances. Reducing this dispersal may be important in an integrated weed management system. The objectives of this study were to determine the distance that wild oat seeds are dispersed by a combine harvester and the effect of chaff collection on combine harvester seed dispersal. This was measured by sampling wild oat seeds at varying distances behind a combine equipped with a removable chaff collection system after it passed through a wild oat patch. Chaff collection consistently reduced the amount and distance that wild oat seeds were dispersed. This occurred because more than 74% of the total wild oat seed that were ejected from the combine were in the chaff. Because most of the chaff falls in a row directly behind the combine, chaff collection only affected dispersal in this area. In 1996, chaff collection reduced wild oat seed dispersal past the wild oat patch to less than 10 seeds m−2 at 45 m, whereas without chaff collection, there was greater than 10 seeds m−2 up to 145 m. At distances beyond 145 m, chaff collection had no significant effect on seed dispersal. Chaff collection may be an important tool in an integrated weed management program because it may slow weed invasions and reduce the expansion of weed patches.
Nomenclature: Wild oat, Avena fatua L. AVEFA.