Efficient non-chemical weed control like flame weeding often requires repeated treatments. In weed control experiments the effect of each treatment may be estimated by removing and weighing the remaining weed biomass after the treatment, but the method influences the weed plants ability to regrow, and therefore it may influence the long-term effect of repeated treatments. Visual assessment of weed cover or image analysis do not affect the remaining parts of the weed plants after treatment, but the methods may have other disadvantages. In order to evaluate and compare three methods we measured changes in vegetation cover of perennial ryegrass after flaming by (1) a simple image analysis programme counting green pixels, (2) visual assessment of images and (3) by taking biomass samples. Plants were flame treated with eight different dosages (0, 20, 30, 35, 45, 60, 90 and 180 kg propane ha-1) and with various treatment frequency (2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 yearly treatments). Image analysis and visual assessment of images were easy methods to measure vegetation cover. The experiments showed that increasing dosages and frequent treatments resulted in increasing reduction of plant weight and vegetation cover. However, there were significant differences in the estimated effective doses (e.g., ED50 and ED90 values) depending on assessment method and treatment frequency. One reason could be that image analysis and visual assessment did not affect the remaining weed parts after treatment and therefore gave a more realistic picture of the long-term effect of repeated treatments. Image analysis was most useful for assessing the effect of repeated treatments when weed cover was relatively low (below 40%) and when plots contained relatively much withered plant material. However, when weed cover is close to 100%, dry weight measurements reflected the effect of the treatment better.
Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica. Section B. Soil and Plant Science, 2013, Vol 63, Issue 2, p. 162-168