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Agronomy (Switzerland)

The concept of site-specific weed management is based on the assumption that weeds are aggregated in patches. In this study, we surveyed four plots in four commercial almond orchards for three years and mapped the locations of Ecballium elaterium, a troublesome weed in Israeli agriculture, specifically in almond orchards. We analyzed the spatial pattern of the plants’ locations using nearest neighbor analysis and Ripley’s L function. The number of E. elaterium plants increased by more than 70% in the four plots from 2015 to 2016. In addition, the observed mean distance between nearest neighbors increased by more than 10% from 2016 and 2017. We found in all four plots that the spatial pattern of E. elaterium was clustered and that these weed patch locations were consistent over the years although the density within the patches increased. The extent of these clusters ranged between 40 to 70 m and remained similar in size throughout the study. These features make E. elaterium a suitable target for site-specific weed management and for pre-emergence patch spraying. Knowledge of the spatial and temporal pattern of weeds could aid in understanding their ecology and could help target herbicide treatments to specific locations of the field and, thus, reducing the chemical application.

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Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Ecballium elaterium in Almond Orchards
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Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Ecballium elaterium in Almond Orchards

The concept of site-specific weed management is based on the assumption that weeds are aggregated in patches. In this study, we surveyed four plots in four commercial almond orchards for three years and mapped the locations of Ecballium elaterium, a troublesome weed in Israeli agriculture, specifically in almond orchards. We analyzed the spatial pattern of the plants’ locations using nearest neighbor analysis and Ripley’s L function. The number of E. elaterium plants increased by more than 70% in the four plots from 2015 to 2016. In addition, the observed mean distance between nearest neighbors increased by more than 10% from 2016 and 2017. We found in all four plots that the spatial pattern of E. elaterium was clustered and that these weed patch locations were consistent over the years although the density within the patches increased. The extent of these clusters ranged between 40 to 70 m and remained similar in size throughout the study. These features make E. elaterium a suitable target for site-specific weed management and for pre-emergence patch spraying. Knowledge of the spatial and temporal pattern of weeds could aid in understanding their ecology and could help target herbicide treatments to specific locations of the field and, thus, reducing the chemical application.

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