The effects of crop rotation and management system on annual variability in weed communities and crop yields were assessed in a 4-yr study in Michigan. Variability of the weed community and corn yields were assessed using the coefficient of variation (CV) and a multivariate dissimilarity index (Bray-Curtis) that accounted for changes in both weed species abundance and composition. The treatments included two rotations: continuous corn and a corn–corn–soybean–wheat rotation, and two management systems: conventional (CONV) and organic-based (ORG). Weed biomass was significantly higher in the ORG system; however, there was no effect of crop rotation on weed biomass or number of weed species in a treatment (species richness). Annual variability in weed community composition and structure was affected by both crop rotation and management system and was highest in the ORG rotation. In contrast to the weed community, variability in corn yield was highest in the least-diverse cropping system (CONV monoculture), despite that system having a more constant weed community. Corn yield in the ORG rotation was not significantly different from that in the CONV monoculture. Results of this study suggest that management aimed at increasing cropping system diversity may have additional effects on weed communities and crop yields beyond those commonly reported, and these may have important implications for the development of more efficient and sustainable weed and crop management practices.
Nomenclature: Corn, Zea mays L.; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr.; wheat, Triticum aestivum L.