SusCrop- ERA-NET

Cofund on Sustainable
Crop Production



Applying and Combining Disturbance and Competition for an agro-ecological management of creeping perennial weeds


Source: Horst-Henning Steinmann

The objective of AC/DC-weeds is to implement more and better agro-ecological management for creeping perennials in arable farming. Overall aim is to reduce plough-tillage in organic and conventional farming, and to replace glyphosate use in the latter system. Cropping systems with less herbicide use to control perennial weeds put less pressure on the environment, is more resilient and allow more biodiversity in the annual weed vegetation.

Novel approaches for agro-ecological management of perennial weeds demand to exploit, combine and evaluate cultural and physical control and bio-based herbicides. Creeping perennials are suppressed by disturbance/competition. Thus, an agro-ecological management must suitably activate these processes. We are investigating new managements based on better understanding of these processes.

Seven partners from 5 European countries, representing Central and Northern European climatic and arable conditions collaborate in the project AC/DC-weeds. It is organized in 7 work packages, which use the most promising methods regarding the state of knowledge, expected results and envisaged outreach.

Source: Horst-Henning Steinmann

New ways of applying disturbance subterranean without turning the soil are being examined in field experiments together with defoliation strategies via cutting/bio-based herbicides. Results from joint field experiments test efficacy and practicability of these new ways. The effects of competition on creeping perennials are under investigation. Existing results are systematized by meta-analyses. The excerpting knowledge feeds a trait-based joint database. Specific data for Elymus repens, Cirsium arvense and Sonchus arvensis are pooled, knowledge gaps are addressed through semi-field experiments. Three partners are tidying existing knowledge for these species and running collaborative semi-field experiments (pot and field trials for S. arvensis and C. arvense, and field trials for E. repens at 1-3 locations).

Due to the patchiness of perennials it is vital to monitoring whole fields. We are spatially monitoring perennials with available tools like cameras/sensors installed in drones/vehicles. Reliable algorithms are under development to monitor perennials. Qualitative models to analyse the impact of cropping practices, soil, weather and field environment on perennial infestations are being designed. These models combine data from various sources including literatures, surveys and experiments, expert opinions and simulation models. With the help of a novel interactive graphical web tool spatial visualization of various scenarios of disturbance and competition are being developed.

Coordination ensures data flow, exchange and communication among partners. A data framework is provided to feed experimental results, descriptive and analytical traits and species-based approaches into technological applications. Dissemination of the results is coordinated and supported. As outreaching results aim to alter cropping technologies, evaluation of effects on the environment and economics are being conducted. AC/DC-weeds addresses a range of stakeholders from the land use sector. Communication and dissemination are targeting advisors and farmers in conventional and organic farming and other stakeholders like land owners and nature conservation.


Source: Bärbel Gerowitt

Source: Bärbel Gerowitt

Prof Bärbel Gerowitt
University of Rostock (UR), Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Crop Health, GERMANY



Prof Lars Olav Brandsæter
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Faculty of Biosciences, Department of Plant Sciences, NORWAY

Dr Kirsten Tørresen
Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research – NIBIO, Department of Invertebrate Pests and Weeds, NORWAY

Dr Jukka Salonen
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Natural Resources, FINLAND

Dr Jesper Rasmussen
University of Copenhagen, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, DENMARK

Dr Marie-Helene Robin
INRA, UMR AGIR - AGroecologies, Innovations & Ruralities, FRANCE

INRA UMR agronomie, environnement et agronomie, FRANCE

Video - Root growth animation of creeping thistle

Key publications

Andert, S., Weigel, M., Ganji, E., & Gerowitt, B. (2022). Visualizing growth of Cirsium arvense (L.) scop. for farmers. Julius-Kühn-Archiv 468, 105-109.

Ganji, E., Andert, S., & Gerowitt, B. (2022). The herbicidal potential of pelargonic acid to control Cirsium arvense (L.) scop. in relation to the timing of application and the application volume. Julius-Kühn-Archiv 468, 86-93.

Gerowitt, B., Andert, S., Brandsæter, L. O., Rasmussen, J., Robin, M.-H., Salonen, J., Tørresen, K. S., & Zhang, H. (2022). The challenges of arable creeping perennial weeds in research, management and perception addressed in the joint project AC/DC-weeds. Julius-Kühn-Archiv 468, 68-72.

Robin, M.-H., Lacroix, O., Aubertot, J.-N., Bohanec, M., & Cordeau, S. (2022) IPSIM-Cirsium, a qualitative expert-based model to predict infestations of Cirsium arvense, Julius-Kühn-Archiv 468, 94-99.

Tørresen, K. S., Ringselle, B., Brandsæter, L. O., & Salonen, J. (2022) Autumn mowing and pelargonic acid can suppress Elymus repensabundance especially when combined with increased crop competition, Julius-Kühn-Archiv 468, 100-104.

Hamacher, M., Andert, S., Zhang, H., & Gerowitt, B. (2022). Farmers´ perspectives of perennial weeds in arable farming. Julius-Kühn-Archiv 468, 73-78.

Weigel, M., & Gerowitt, B. (2022). Mechanical disturbance of Cirsium arvense - Results from a multi-year field study. Julius-Kühn-Archiv 468, 79-85.

Tørresen, K. S., Fykse, H., Rafoss, T., & Gerowitt, B. (2020). Autumn growth of three perennial weeds at high latitude benefits from climate change. Global change biology, 26 (4), 2561-2572.

Zhang, H., Andert, S., Brandsæter, L. O., Rasmussen, J., Robin, M. H., Salonen, J., Tørresen, K. S., Valantin-Morison, M., & Gerowitt, B. (2020). Future management of arable perennials – an introduction to the project AC/DC-weeds. In Proceedings: 29th German Conference on Weed Biology and Weed Control, March 3-5, 2020, Braunschweig, Germany. Julius Kühn-Institut.