Allelopathic Cover Crop of Rye for Integrated Weed Control in Sustainable Agroecosystems

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review

23 Citazioni (Scopus)


The allelopathic potential of rye (Secale cereale L.) is mainly due to phytotoxic benzoxazinones, compounds that are produced and accumulated in young tissues to different degrees depending on cultivar and environmental influences. Living rye plants exude low levels of benzoxazinones, while cover crop residues can release from 12 to 20 kg ha–1. This paper summarizes the results obtained from several experiments performed in both controlled and field environments, in which rye was used as a cover crop to control summer weeds in a following maize crop. Significant differences in benzoxazinoid content were detected between rye cultivars. In controlled environments, rye mulches significantly reduced germination of some broadleaf weeds. Germination and seedling growth of Amaranthus retroflexus and Portulaca oleracea were particularly affected by the application of rye mulches, while Chenopodium album was hardly influenced and Abutilon theophrasti was advantaged by the presence of the mulch. With reference to the influence of agronomic factors on the production of benzoxazinoids, nitrogen fertilization increased the content of allelochemicals, although proportionally less than dry matter. The field trial established on no-till maize confirmed the significant weed suppressiveness of rye mulch, both for grass and broadleaf weeds. A significant positive interaction between N fertilization and no-tillage resulting in the suppression of broadleaf weeds was observed. The different behavior of the weeds in the presence of allelochemicals was explained in terms of differential uptake and translocation capabilities. The four summer weeds tested were able to grow in the presence of low amounts of benzoxazolin-2(3H)-one (BOA), between 0.3 and 20 μmol g−1 fresh weight. Although there were considerable differences in their sensitivity to higher BOA concentrations, P. oleracea, A. retroflexus, and Ch. album represented a group of species with a consistent absorption capability. The insensitivity of A. theophrasti to BOA was due to reduced accumulation in seedlings. Overall, results confirm that the use of a rye cover crop in a suitable crop rotation represents a sustainable weed management practice permitting a reduction in the amount of herbicides used in agroecosystems, thus limiting the environmental risks of intensive agriculture.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)35-40
Numero di pagine6
RivistaItalian Journal of Agronomy
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2013


  • Secale cereale L.
  • allelopathy
  • benzoxazinoids
  • cover crops
  • integrated weed control
  • sustainable agriculture


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