Abstract: Cultural practices used for crop production influence the composition of the weed seed bank in the soil. This paper reports the results of a 5-yr experiment to characterize the weed seed bank conducted on a farmer-managed field in central Iowa. The number of weed seeds in the soil and their vertical distribution were examined each October. At the initial sampling in October 1994, the field had been in hay production and about 80% of the weed seeds were common waterhemp and foxtail species. The cropping sequence over the next 3 yr was corn/soybean/corn using a ridge tillage system. Over this period, the density of common waterhemp seeds declined each year. The density of foxtail seeds declined by almost 90% during the first year of corn and did not change during the following years of soybean and corn production. Prior to moldboard plowing of the hay sward in 1994, weed seeds were concentrated in the upper 10 cm of soil. Moldboard plowing resulted in a more uniform distribution of the weed seeds over the upper 20 cm of soil, and the distribution across depths remained relatively constant during the 3 yr of corn and soybean production. During the final year of the experiment, the field was rotated to oat and reseeded with hay species. The number of common waterhemp and foxtail seeds in the soil greatly increased following oat/hay production and seeds were concentrated in the upper 10 cm of the soil profile. Results indicated that the processes affecting the weed seed bank in production fields are complex and will vary greatly based on the production practices used and the timing of their application.
Nomenclature: Common waterhemp, Amaranthus rudis Sauer #3 AMATA; corn, Zea mays L.; foxtail species, Setaria spp.; oat, Avena sativa L.; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr.
Additional index words: Cropping systems, ridge tillage, seed bank, seed distribution.