Original Research

Weed management practices in natural ecosystems: a critical overview

C.F. Reinhardt
Koedoe | Vol 43, No 1 | a209 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/koedoe.v43i1.209 | © 2000 C.F. Reinhardt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 July 2000 | Published: 02 July 2000

About the author(s)

C.F. Reinhardt,

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Increasing public pressure against the use of pesticides and other agricultural inputs has placed increased emphasis on the development of ecologically based pest management. One distinct reaction of the Weed Science discipline has been the swing away from herbicide research to increased research on the basic biology and ecology of weeds in hopes of reduced reliance on "technological crutches" such as herbicides and other practices that are potentially harmful to the environment. Biological control is the long-standing alternative to the use of herbicides and interest in the former practice has been boosted by the realization that the use of herbicides may lead to the development of herbicide resistance in weed populations, and that herbicide residues occur in surface and groundwater. Supporters of herbicide use would point out that biological control is generally not effective in crop production systems, and is basically slow-acting. Debates between protagonists for the exclusive use of one or the other weed management practice tend to obscure the benefits that integration of different techniques are likely to have. For natural ecosystems it is proposed that integration of the more subtle practice of biological control with the use of herbicides, which relatively quickly overwhelm a biological system with mortality, is likely to be the most effective weed management tool. Different weed management practices that could be considered in natural ecosystems are discussed in terms of three key performance rating criteria, viz. activity, selec- tivity and persistence In this concise review, general discussion is focussed on the fundamentals of weed management practices, with the view to promote concept-based approaches that are critical for the development of effective weed management strate- gies.


alien invader plants, biocontrol, ecosystems, herbicides, weeds.


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