Weeding is an important control method practiced in many crops. The removal of weeds is useful because these unwanted plants compete with the crop for space, water and nutrients.
Weed control should usually be done in an early crop stage, as this is more practical (the weed plants are smaller) and more effective. Often, the weeding has to be repeated 2 or 3 times, whenever weeds start to grow again.
Besides helping to get a healthier crop, weeding has some other advantages. It helps to alter the micro-climate below the plants. Sun and wind can penetrate deeper in a weeded crop and reduce the humidity. This can have a positive impact on pest populations and some diseases.
Weeding also helps to loosen the soil. Water can infiltrate more rapidly and roots of the cultivated plants can develop in a better way.
While weed control is important, keeping a few spots of weeds as a refuge will help to conserve the eco-system.
The growth of weeds can be prevented or delayed by using mulch.
Weeds can be controlled mechanically or by using chemicals (herbicides). However, the use of chemicals can have adverse side effects on the environment and it involves risks for the farmers who have to handle the dangerous substances. Therefore in IPM, mechanical weeding is the preferred method.