Manual weeding, maize-cowpea intercropping, pre-emergence (PRE) and early post-emergence (EPOST) herbicide applications comprised ten weed control practices evaluated in the 2015-16 cropping season on weed species structure and maize (Zea mays L.) yield in the Middleveld and Highveld of Swaziland. The herbicides used were Harness (acetochlor) and Dual Gold (S-metolachlor) as pre-emergence applications and Micro-Tech (alachlor) and Callisto (mesotrione) as early post-emergence applications. PRE and EPOST herbicides were used as once-off or combined applications besides manual weeding or intercropping practices. Results indicated that the combination of PRE and EPOST herbicides reduced both species richness (number) and evenness (dominance) but weed species composition (types) were not distinguished amongst treatments. Manual weeding in combination with PRE herbicides or maize-cowpea intercropping resulted in significantly lower weed density and biomass as compared to singular or combinations of PRE or EPOST herbicides in both locations. The effects of weed control practices on grain yield of maize were not significantly distinguished among weed control practices between the two sites. The study reaffirmed that herbicides may need to be supplemented with other weed control strategies to obtain acceptable weed control.
Key words: Herbicides, maize, Shannon-Wiener diversity index, Simpson’s dominance index, Steinhaus coefficient index, weeds.
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