Weed management

Aims

• To introduce students to the basic and applied concepts underlying weed management in sustainable agroecosystems. • To illustrate the concepts of Integrated Weed Management and (Agro)Ecological Weed Management, their components and their application in low external input and organic farming systems. • To illustrate novel solutions and case studies for tackling weed management with or without herbicides with a system approach.  

Prerequisites

A minimum background in genetics, an average
 background in ecology and a good background in agronomy.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, students will have: - acquired knowledge on Integrated Weed Management (IWM) and (Agro)Ecological Weed Management (AWM/EWM), their component and complexity, and their place in sustainable agroecosystem management; - gained self-confidence in concepts and tools for preventive, cultural and direct (chemical or non-chemical) weed management; - acquired basic skills on the biological and ecological knowledge on weeds and crop/weed interactions necessary to plan a proper and effective IWM or AWM/EWM system for low external input and organic farming.

Syllabus

Introduction and definition of different concepts related to weeds, crop-weed interactions and Integrated weed Management (IWM). IWM components: preventive, cultural and direct methods. AWM/EWM: similarities and differences with IWM. The importance of diversifying weed management strategies. Sustainable use of herbicides and herbicide-resistant crops. Novel non-chemical tools for weed management.

Content Delivery

The Unit aims to introduce students to the complex and multifaceted world of weed management in sustainable agroecosystems in a highly interactive manner. Given the restrictions posed by COVID-19, the Unit is composed of (a) standard lectures based on PowerPoint presentations, (b) group discussion and (d) final exam. PowerPoint presentations are organised as to continuously encourage students' interaction with the lecturer, to let them better fix concepts, and gradually acquire confidence in the subject by learning how to place it in the context of the stem disciplines (genetics, ecology and agronomy). A group discussion will be held on the morning of the final day for reappraisal of the concepts introduced during the week. It is expected that active participation of students in this phase facilitates fixing of concepts and preparation for the final exam. Time Table Day 1- [Monday 17 May 2021]   Time (EET) Lecture Teaching 09.30 – 13.30 Introduction to the module. The importance of weed management in the context of low external input and organic agriculture. Integrated Weed Management Systems (IWMS): definition, aims, and components. Essential knowledge of weed biology and ecology: biological and ecophysiological groups, ecophysiology of weed germination, emergence/early growth, reproduction and dispersion. Perennial weeds. Essential knowledge of crop/weed interactions in Mediterranean agroecosystems: competition for nutrients and water, allelopathy, parasitism. Day 2- [Tuesday 18 May 2021]   Time (EET) Lecture Teaching 09.30 – 13.30 Preventive and cultural weed management: definition, components, and role in IWMS. Soil tillage and crop rotation. Cover crops: dead mulches, living mulches and green manure. Other types of mulching. Soil solarisation: effect on weeds.Day 3- [Wednesday 19 May 2021]   Time (EET) Lecture Teaching 15.00 – 19.00 Overview of direct non-chemical weed control methods: potential and limitations. Mechanical weed control in small grain crops: the spring-tine harrow. Intra-row mechanical weed control in row crops: hoes, split-hoe. In-row mechanical weed control in row crops: finger weeders, torsion weeder, brush weeders, etc. Thermal weed control: flame-weeding and soil steaming. Non-chemical weed management in fruit crops: novel machinery for mechanical weed control, cover crops and mulches. Approach to herbicide use in IPM. Herbicide resistance in crops and weeds.Day 4- [Thursday 20 May 2021]   Time (EET) Lecture Teaching 09.30 – 13.30 (Agro)Ecological Weed Management (AWM/EWM): definition, similarities and differences with IWM. EMW as an agroecosystem service. Functional agrobiodiversity to support agroecosystem services: Applications to EWM.Day 5- [Friday 21 May 2021]   Time (EET) Lecture Teaching 09.30 – 13.30 Reappraisal of concepts. Guided group discussion in the lecture room aimed to fix the concepts illustrated during the week.

Coursework And Assignment Details

• Before and during the Unit students will be given a selection of teaching material (PDF of scientific papers and reports) aimed to make them gradually acquire confidence with new concepts and place them in the broader context of agricultural sustainability. • Students will also receive a PDF version of lectures. • Students will be actively engaged in individual and group discussion, aimed to fix concepts. These activities will be guided by the lecturer. • The evaluation of the Unit will consist of an individual oral exam based on the content illustrated during the week. The exam will take place on 31 May 2021 from 10.00 to 14.00 EET.