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Selective control of weeds in an arable crop by mulches from some multipurpose trees in southwestern Nigeria
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The use of agroforestry systems in which pruning from trees is used to mulch the companion crops is an important area of research in the tropics. However, previous studies mostly evaluated the contribution of mulch to soil improvement and rarely examined the effect of mulch on weeds. Field experiments were conducted during the 1995 and 1996 growing seasons to investigate the effects of mulch from three woody fallow species on weed composition, biomass and maize grain yield. Treatments consisted of mulch from Leucaena leucocephala, Gliricidia sepium, and Senna siamea applied at rates of five and three tons dry matter ha−1 at planting and three weeks after planting (WAP), respectively, an unmulched treatment that received 90 kg N ha−1 of inorganic fertiliser, and an unmulched control plot that received no fertiliser. In both years and sampling dates, plots mulched with G. sepium and S. siamea had significantly lower weed density and biomass than the control plot in each of the sampling times and year of study. There was no significant difference in either weed density or biomass between the plot mulched with L. leucocephala and the unmulched plots. Mulches from G. sepium and S. siamea reduced weed density and weed biomass, while L. leucocephala was less effective in reducing weed biomass and weed density. Weed reduction by the mulches was in the order G. sepium ≥ S. siamea > L. leucocephala. Sedges were the dominant species in all the treatments except in G. sepium plots, where Talinum triangulare and other broadleaved species were dominant.