Dorothee Kolberg

Research Scientist

(+47) 951 87 344

Ås R9

Visiting address
Raveien 9, 1430 Ås


In cold-temperate climate with high soil water content in spring, the farmer often faces the choice between topsoil compaction during seedbed preparation and delayed sowing, both of which may reduce attainable cereal yield. The objective of this study was to explore whether future climate change with increasing precipitation would aggravate this dilemma. We generated weather based on historical and projected future climate in Southeastern and Central Norway. Using this weather data as input, we simulated spring workability, attainable yield, timeliness costs, and mechanization management with a workability model and a mechanization model. The projected climate changes resulted in improved workability for spring fieldwork and higher attainable yield in South-eastern Norway, and either positive or negative changes in Central Norway compared to historical conditions. We observed a general increase in variability of workability and attainable yield, and a larger risk of extremely unfavourable years in the most unfavourable scenarios in Central Norway. Changes in profitability and mechanization management were small, but followed the same pattern. The negative effects in the most unfavourable climate scenarios in Central Norway were in contrast to positive effects in earlier studies. We explained discrepancies by differences in research methods and purpose. However, simulated sowing dates of annual crops should consider workability of the soil, in terms of water content. Under worst-case conditions, in need of a certain time window to complete their spring fieldwork, farmers might adapt to impaired spring workability by working the soil at higher water content than simulated in our study. The consequence would be a larger loss of attainable yield and less profitability in the future. We anticipate that negative effects may also be expected in other northern cold-temperate regions with high soil water content in spring.

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Quackgrass is a problematic agricultural weed in the temperate zones of the world and is difficult to control without herbicides or intensive tillage. However, it may be possible to control quackgrass with less environmental impact by combining multiple low-intensity control methods. A pot experiment was conducted in July to October 2012 and repeated in June to September 2013 to investigate the effect of rhizome fragmentation, competition from white clover, shoot-cutting frequency, and cutting height on quackgrass. Rhizome fragmentation was expected to result in more, but weaker, quackgrass shoots that would be more vulnerable to shoot cutting and competition. However, by 20 d past planting, rhizome fragmentation did not change the total number of quackgrass shoots per pot, because an increase in main shoots was offset by a decrease in tiller numbers. Rhizome fragmentation did not reduce quackgrass biomass acquisition during the experimental period. Although rhizome fragmentation did reduce total fructan content, it did not enhance the effect of clover competition, shoot-cutting frequency, or shoot-cutting height. Clover competition by itself reduced quackgrass shoot numbers by 72%, rhizome biomass by 81%, and belowground fructan concentration by 10 percentage points, compared with no competition. The more frequently quackgrass shoots were cut, the less biomass quackgrass acquired, and a high shoot-cutting frequency (each time quackgrass reached 2 leaves) resulted in a lower belowground fructan concentration than a low shoot-cutting frequency (at 8 leaves). However, in pots without competition, a higher shoot-cutting frequency resulted in more quackgrass shoots. A lower shoot-cutting height (25 mm) had more impact when shoot cutting was more frequent. In conclusion, rhizome fragmentation did not reduce the number of quackgrass shoots or rhizome biomass, but competition from white clover, a high shoot-cutting frequency, and a low shoot-cutting height strongly suppressed quackgrass biomass and fructan acquisition.