Plant ecology and weed biology

Last changed: 09 January 2020
Field worker on a field.

The Plant Ecology group deals with the functional interactions among plants and between plants and the environment. In our research we investigate the general processes and mechanisms underlying crop growth, resource use and pests including weeds, in relation to genotype and environment.

Genotype and environment

Major research activities focus on the production ecology and resource use efficiency of agricultural crops and the genetic basis of the underlying crop traits.

Some examples:

  • More nutrient-efficient plants are required for increasing and/or maintaining crop yields, while at the same time reducing the negative environmental impacts of plant cultivation. We have developed, tested and applied a new flexible concept for assessment of critical components of nutrient use efficiency in annual and perennial crops.
  • A shift from annual to perennial crops is advocated for more sustainable agriculture. Comparing annual and perennial plants, we have quantified the trade-offs between yields, ability to provide key ecosystem services and life span, thus corroborating the advantages of perennial crops as a more sustainable alternative to annual crops.
  • No model currently available is able to account for the influence of different biotic and abiotic stress factors on the winter survival of winter wheat. However, in collaboration with partners, we have been able to predict winter survival satisfactorily under conditions where low temperature is the main cause of winter damage.

Contact and more information 

Martin Weih

Giulia Vico 

Plant health

We are developing sustainable crop protection strategies based on a mechanistic understanding of the interactions between plants, pests and their natural enemies/antagonists. The research demonstrates the importance of botanical and microbiological diversity for sustainable plant protection strategies.

Staff at plant health and Genotype and environment

Plant interaction in cropping systems

Plants do not see, hear, smell or test, but they communicate with each other in different ways including chemical signalling between different plants pairs. The aim of our research is to develop sustainable crop protection strategies based understanding of the interactions between plants, insects and their natural enemies.

Weed biology and Weed Control

Weed biology is an integrated science with the aim of minimising the negative effects of weeds and of exploiting and promoting positive characteristics in the agroecosystem. It includes the biology and ecology of individual weed species and weed communities.

Some examples:

  • The synergistic results from several projects have revealed potential for more resource-efficient control of perennial weeds, including studies on sprouting capacity, competition, allocation, rhizome fragmentation and modelling of population dynamics.
  • We have shown that the photo-thermal requirement, which could halt the northern range shift of weed species, is counteracted by evolution and climate change.

Staff at weed biology and weed control

Read more

Climate-Adapted Poplar through more efficient breeding and better tools for matching genotype and site – developing the poplar bio-economy market in Sweden and the Baltic (CLAP)

Nutrient Efficient Wheat partnership (NEWp)

Designing InnoVative plant teams for Ecosystem Resilience and agricultural Sustainability


Martin Weih, Professor
Department of Crop Production Ecology, SLU 018-672543 

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