A study was initiated in 2001at four locations in western Canada to investigate an integrated approach to managing wild oat, the region's worst weed. The study examined the effects of combining semidwarf or tall barley cultivars with normal or twice-normal barley seeding rates in either continuous barley or a barley–canola–barley–field pea–barley rotation. Herbicides were applied at 25, 50, and 100% of recommended rates. The first phase of the study was completed in 2005. This paper reports on the second phase, which was continued for four more years at two of the locations, Beaverlodge and Fort Vermilion, AB, Canada. The objective was to determine the long-term impact of the treatments on wild oat seed in the soil seed bank. In 2009 (final year), the diverse rotation combined with the higher barley seeding rate (optimal cultural practice) resulted in higher barley yields and reduced wild oat biomass compared to continuous barley and lower barley seeding rate (suboptimal cultural practice). In contrast to the first phase, barley yield was higher with the semidwarf cultivar, and cultivar had no effect on wild oat management. Wild oat seed in the soil seed bank decreased with increasing herbicide rate, but amounts were often lower with the optimal cultural practice. For example, at the recommended herbicide rate at Beaverlodge, an approximate 40-fold reduction in wild oat seed occurred with the optimal compared to the suboptimal cultural practice. The results indicate that combining optimal cultural practices with herbicides will reduce the amount of wild oat seed in the soil seed bank, and result in higher barley yields. Optimal cultural practices may also compensate for reduced herbicidal effects in terms of reducing wild oat seed accumulation in the soil seed bank and increasing barley yield. The results have implications for mitigating the evolution of herbicide resistance in wild oat.
Nomenclature: Wild oat, Avena fatua L.; barley, Hordeum vulgare L.; canola, Brassica napus L.; field pea, Pisum sativum L.