Maintaining crop residues on the soil surface has changed cropping practices in the Central Great Plains. Where previously winter wheat–fallow was the prevalent rotation, producers now grow warm-season crops in sequence with winter wheat and fallow. Controlling weeds during fallow with herbicides eliminates the need for tillage, thus conserving more crop residues. However, producers are considering subsurface tillage as an option to manage herbicide-resistant weeds. We reviewed the impact of subsurface tillage with the sweep plow on weed dynamics and crop growth compared with no-till systems. Cropping systems studies show that rotations can be designed to reduce weed community density severalfold; tillage lessens this rotational effect by burying weed seeds and prolonging their survival in soil. Crop residues on the soil surface reduce weed seedling establishment in no-till systems, but tillage eliminates this effect. Crops also yield less after tillage compared with no-till in this semiarid climate. Tillage may help in managing herbicide resistance, but it also may increase weed density as well as reduce crop yield.
Nomenclature: Winter wheat, Triticum aestivum L.
Additional index words: Crop residues, rotation design, seed bank dynamics, sweep plow.
Abbreviations: W-C-CP, winter wheat–corn–chickpea; W-CP, winter wheat–chickpea rotation; W-F, winter wheat–fallow.