The impact of aqueous and N-hexane extracts of three Fabaceae species on seed germination and seedling growth of some broadleaved weed species.
Weed infestation is a persistent problem for centuries and continues to be major yield reducing issue in modern agriculture. Chemical weed control through herbicides results in numerous ecological, environmental, and health-related issues. Moreover, numerous herbicides have evolved resistance against available herbicides. Plant extracts are regarded as an alternative to herbicides and a good weed management option. The use of plant extracts is environmentally safe and could solve the problem of herbicide resistance. Therefore, laboratory and wire house experiments were conducted to evaluate the phytotoxic potential of three Fabaceae species, i.e., Cassia occidentalis L. (Coffee senna), Sesbania sesban (L.) Merr. (Common sesban) and Melilotus alba Medik. (White sweetclover) against seed germination and seedling growth of some broadleaved weed species. Firstly, N-hexane and aqueous extracts of these species were assessed for their phytotoxic effect against lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). The extracts found more potent were further tested against germination and seedling growth of four broadleaved weed species, i.e., Parthenium hysterophorus L. (Santa-Maria), Trianthema portulacastrum L. (Pigweed), Melilotus indica L (Indian sweetclover). and Rumex dentatus L. (Toothed dock) in Petri dish and pot experiments. Aqueous extracts of all species were more toxic than their N-hexane forms for seed germination and seedling growth of lettuce; therefore, aqueous extracts were assessed for their phytotoxic potential against four broadleaved weed species. Aqueous extracts of all species proved phytotoxic against T. portulacastrum, P. hysterophorus, M. indica and R. dentatus and retarder their germination by 57, 90, 100 and 58%, respectively. Nevertheless, foliar spray of C. occidentalis extract was the most effective against T. portulacastrum as it reduced its dry biomass by 72%, while M. alba was effective against P. hysterophorus, R. dentatus and M. indica and reduced their dry biomass by 55, 68 and 81%, respectively. It is concluded that aqueous extracts of M. alba, S. sesban and C. occidentalis could be used to retard seed germination of T. portulacastrum, P. hysterophorus, M. indica and R. dentatus. Similarly, aqueous extracts of C. occidentalis can be used to suppress dry biomass of T. portulacastrum, and those of M. alba against P. hysterophorus, R. dentatus. However, use of these extracts needs their thorough testing under field conditions.