Theory and models of crop yield loss from weed competition have led to decision models to help growers choose cost-effective weed management. These models are available for multiple-species weed communities in a single season of several crops. Growers also rely on crop rotation for weed control, yet theory and models of weed population dynamics have not led to similar tools for planning of crop rotations for cost-effective weed management. Obstacles have been the complexity of modeling the dynamics of multiple populations of weed species compared to a single species and lack of data. We developed a method to use limited, readily observed data to simulate population dynamics and crop yield loss of multiple-species weed communities in response to crop rotation, tillage system, and specific weed management tactics. Our method is based on the general theory of density dependence of plant productivity and extensive use of rectangular hyperbolic equations for describing crop yield loss as a function of weed density. Only two density-independent parameters are required for each species to represent differences in seed bank mortality, emergence, and maximum seed production. One equation is used to model crop yield loss and density-dependent weed seed production as a function of crop and weed density, relative time of weed and crop emergence, and differences among species in competitive ability. The model has been parameterized for six crops and 15 weeds, and limited evaluation indicates predictions are accurate enough to highlight potential weed problems and solutions when comparing alternative crop rotations for a field. The model has been incorporated into a decision support tool for whole-farm management so growers in the Central Great Plains of the United States can compare alternative crop rotations and how their choice influences farm income, herbicide use, and control of weeds in their fields.
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Vol. 57 • No. 2