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Weed control under conservation agriculture in dryland smallholder farming systems of southern Africa. A review

Abstract : AbstractHuman-induced soil degradation has led to declining yields and soil fertility in many parts of the world. Conservation agriculture has been proposed as a strategy to ensure more sustainable land use. While conservation agriculture, based on minimum soil disturbance, crop residue retention, and diversification may improve a range of soil characteristics and can be a potential cropping system for improving farmer resilience to climate change, increased weed pressure is often an impediment to its widespread adoption in southern Africa. Weed control under conservation agriculture in other countries has been linked to increased herbicide use, but concerns about herbicide resistance, access to chemicals, and environmental impacts highlight the need for alternative weed control strategies accessible for smallholders. Farmers in semi-arid regions contend with the additional challenge of low biomass production, which may limit the weed-suppressing benefits of permanent soil cover. This paper reviews the regional applicability of various mechanical (manual weeding, weeding using animal traction, weed seed harvest), thermal (soil solarization, weed steaming, flaming), chemical (herbicides, seed coating), and cultural (crop competition, crop residue retention, intercropping, crop rotation) weed control strategies. For each strategy, benefits and challenges were assessed and contextualized with the circumstances of rainfed smallholder farmers in southern Africa. We found that (1) no single solution can solve all weed control challenges under current conservation agriculture systems; (2) success of weed control strategies is largely contingent upon site-specific conditions, including soil type, dominant weed species, and socioeconomic factors; and (3) practices new to southern Africa, such as weed steaming, merit localized research. Previous reviews have addressed various weed control strategies, but a comprehensive review of strategies available to smallholder farmers in semi-arid southern Africa is lacking. Finding a suitable combination of weed control strategies is critical for encouraging smallholder farmers to adopt and maintain conservation agriculture practices.
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Nicole Lee, Christian Thierfelder. Weed control under conservation agriculture in dryland smallholder farming systems of southern Africa. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, Springer Verlag/EDP Sciences/INRA, 2017, 37 (5), pp.48. ⟨10.1007/s13593-017-0453-7⟩. ⟨hal-02967764⟩



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