Potential use of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) to suppress three invasive plant species in agroecosystems (Ageratum conyzoides L., Bidens pilosa L., and Galinsoga parviflora Cav.).
Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.) is a logical candidate crop to suppress invasive plants, but additional information is needed to support its potential application as a suppressive ground cover. The current study utilized a de Wit replacement series incorporating five ratios of sweet potato grown in the field in combination with one of three invasive plants (Ageratum conyzoides L., Bidens pilosa L., and Galinsoga parviflora Cav.) in replicated 9 m2 plots. Stem length, total biomass, and leaf area were higher for monoculture-grown sweet potato than these parameters for any of the invasive plants grown in monoculture. In mixed culture, the plant height, branch, leaf, inflorescence, seed, and biomass of all invasive plants were suppressed by sweet potato. The relative yield parameter indicated that intraspecific competition was greater than interspecific competition for sweet potato, while the reverse was true for invasive species. The net photosynthetic rate was higher for sweet potato than for B. pilosa and G. parviflora but not A. conyzoides. Superoxide dismutase and peroxidase activities of each of the three invasive plants were reduced in mixture with sweet potato. Our results demonstrated that these three invasive plants were significantly suppressed by sweet potato competition due to the rapid growth and phenotypic plasticity of sweet potato.