Does crotalaria (Crotalaria breviflora) or pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) inter-row cultivation in restoration plantings control invasive grasses?
Ricardo Gomes César, Pedro Henrique Santin Brancalion, Ricardo Ribeiro Rodrigues, Aretha Medina dos Santos Oliveira, Marcelo Corrêa Alves. Sci. Agric. v.70, n.4, p.268-273, July/August 2013
ABSTRACT: Alternative methods to control invasive fodder grasses are necessary to reduce the use of herbicides in forest restoration, which has been carried out primarily in riparian zones. We sought to investigate if inter-row cultivation of crotalaria (Crotalaria breviflora DC) or pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata Duschene ex. Poir) with native tree species is an efficient strategy to control invasive fodder grasses in restoration plantings. We tested five treatments in a randomized block design, namely (1) control of brachiaria grass (Urochloa decumbens (Stapf.) Webster) with glyphosate in the implementation and post-planting grass control of the reforestation, (2 and 3) glyphosate use in the implementation and inter-row sowing of crotalaria (2) or pumpkin (3), and control of brachiaria by mowing in the post-planting phase, (4 and 5) mowing in the implementation and inter-row sowing of crotalaria (4) or pumpkin (5), and control of brachiaria by mowing in the post-planting phase. Post-planting grass control was carried out four and nine months after tree seedling planting. Throughout 13 months, we evaluated the percentage of ground cover by brachiaria grass, pumpkin production, and native tree seedling mortality, height and crown cover. The exclusive use of glyphosate, without inter-row sowing of pumpkin or crotalaria showed the most favorable results for controlling brachiaria grass and, consequently, for tree seedling development. Hence, inter-row cultivation of green manure or short-lived crop species is not enough to control invasive grasses in restoration plantings, and complementary weeding is necessary to reduce the highly competitive potential of C4 grasses for supporting native species seedlings growth.