Today, the aim of weed management is to keep the weed community at an acceptable level rather than to keep the crop totally free of weeds. Satisfactory control of weeds may often be obtained when herbicides are used at lower doses than normally recommended. To facilitate the decision of what is an adequate dose in a specific field, the farmer needs support. In 1988 and 1989, a total of 10 field trials in spring cereals were initiated in Sweden with the objective of studying long-term effects of herbicide application according to recommendations from guidelines: the guidelines were developed at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and consisted of printed cards designed for in-field use. Treatments also included a full and a half dose and an untreated control. As an average over the experimental time, i.e., until 1997, the dose used in the guideline treatment varied at different sites between 20 and 70% of a full dose. In 1998, i.e., 1 yr after the last herbicide application, the plant densities of annual weeds in the guideline treatment, the half and the full doses were 51, 57, and 67% lower, respectively, than in the untreated control when averaged over sites. At two and four sites, the half and full doses resulted in significantly lower weed densities than where guidelines had been used. Compared with the control, the full and half doses increased the proportion of difficult-to-control weed species significantly at five and four sites by 21 and 24%, respectively. In the guideline treatment the proportion of difficult-to-control weeds was increased at one site. In 1998, weed counts were higher where guidelines had been used than in the full dose for common lambsquarters and common chickweed at three sites each and for wallflower mustard, catchweed bedstraw, field violet, Galeopsis spp., and Lamium spp. at one site each. At three sites, no significant treatment effects on crop yields were found, whereas yields at the remaining seven sites were higher where guidelines had been used than in other treatments in several years. It is concluded that application of dose rates according to recommendations from guidelines can be a fruitful way to reduce herbicide use.
Nomenclature: Common lambsquarters, Chenopodium album L. CHEAL; common chickweed, Stellaria media (L.) Vill. STEME; wallflower mustard, Erysimum cheiranthoides L. ERYCH; catchweed bedstraw, Galium aparine L. GALAP; field violet, Viola arvensis Murr. VIOAR.