Agronomic productivity and nitrogen requirements of alternative tillage and crop establishment systems for improved weed control in direct-seeded rice

C. M. Pittelkow, A. J. Fischer, M. J. Moechnig, J. E. Hill, K. B. Koffler, R. G. Mutters, C. A. Greer, Y. S. Cho, C. van Kessel, B. A. Linquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Weed control is a primary concern in direct-seeded rice, particularly for herbicide-resistant weed species which stand to threaten the long-term sustainability of California rice systems. In a four-year field study we evaluated the potential for improved weed control using no-till stale seedbed practices in water-seeded (WS) and drill-seeded (DS) rice establishment systems. In addition, as the agronomic performance of alternative tillage and crop establishment methods is not well understood, we assessed the productivity of these systems and estimated economic optimum nitrogen (EON) rates based on yield response to nitrogen (N) trials. Establishment system treatments included: water-seeded conventional tillage (WS conventional), water-seeded conventional tillage stale seedbed (WS stale), water-seeded no-till stale seedbed (WS no-till stale), drill-seeded conventional tillage (DS conventional), and drill-seeded no-till stale seedbed (DS no-till stale). Compared to the WS conventional system, WS stale and WS no-till stale treatments significantly reduced sedge weed biomass by 59 and 95%, respectively. Although redstem (Ammannia spp.) was not controlled, alternative WS systems reduced grass weed biomass by more than 99% when present. Within DS systems, no-till stale seedbed practices significantly reduced watergrass (Echinochloa spp.) biomass by 75% in the first two years but did not improve watergrass control during the second half of the study. Grain yields were not different for conventional and alternative rice establishment systems each year when N was applied at 168kgNha -1 and weeds were fully controlled. However, yields were significantly lower for alternative establishment systems compared to the WS conventional system when no N fertilizer was applied, likely as a result of greater soil N losses. The response of grain yield to N rate was significantly different among systems and estimated EON rates indicated that WS stale and WS no-till stale systems required an increase of 30-35kgNha -1 to maximize yields and returns to N compared to the WS conventional system. Results from this experiment demonstrate that alternative tillage and crop establishment systems can lead to improved weed control while remaining viable from an agronomic and economic standpoint in California. Provided N rates are close to optimal and WS and DS establishment methods are selected to target weed species of concern, these findings suggest that no-till stale seedbed practices should be considered as a component of integrated weed management strategies in direct-seeded rice moving forward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-137
Number of pages10
JournalField Crops Research
StatePublished - Mar 29 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Crop establishment
  • Direct-seeded rice
  • Grain yield
  • Nitrogen fertilizer management
  • Tillage
  • Weeds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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