Management practices influence the competitive potential of weed communities and their value to biodiversity in South African vineyards.

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Weeds have negative impacts on crop production but also play a role in sustaining biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. This trade-off raises the question of whether it is possible to promote weed communities with low competitive potential but high value to biodiversity. Here, we explored how weed communities respond to different vineyard management practices in South Africa's Western Cape, aiming to identify whether any specific practices are associated with more beneficial weed communities. Eight weed community characteristics representative of abundance, diversity and functional composition were used as indicators of competitive potential and biodiversity value. We explored how these responded to farm management strategy (organic, low input or conventional) and weed management practices (herbicides, tillage, mowing or combinations of these) using ordination and mixed models. Mown sites were associated with weed communities of high biodiversity value, with higher weed cover in both winter and summer, higher diversity and more native weeds. Mowing also promoted shorter weeds than either tillage or herbicides, considered to be less competitive with grapevines. However, high summer weed cover may be problematic where competition for water is critical, in which case tillage offers a method to limit summer weed cover that did not adversely affect diversity or native weeds. In contrast, herbicide-treated sites had characteristics indicative of a lower biodiversity value and higher potential for competitiveness with few native weeds, lower diversity and relatively tall, small-seeded weeds. Mowing in winter combined with tillage in spring may thus optimise the biodiversity benefits and production costs of Western Cape vineyard weeds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-106
Number of pages14
JournalWeed Research
Issue number2
Early online date4 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Maclaren, CA, Bennett, J & Dehnen-Schmutz, K 2019, 'Management practices influence the competitive potential of weed communities and their value to biodiversity in South African vineyards.' Weed Research, vol. 59, no. 2, pp. 93-106, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


  • biodiversity
  • competition
  • functional traits
  • organic
  • plant community
  • weed management
  • weeds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

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