The within-field and between-field dispersal of weedy rice by combine harvesters

  • Pinglei Gao
  • Zheng Zhang
  • Guojun Sun
  • Haiyan Yu
  • Sheng QiangEmail author
Research Article


Weedy rice (Oryza sativa L.) severely decreases the grain yield and profitability of rice is one of the most significant problems in the majority of rice fields worldwide. Few reports focus on the dispersal of weedy rice, especially how it rapidly spreads to large areas and long distances. Here, we quantify for the first time the within- and between-field dispersal of weedy rice associated with combine harvesting operations. We randomly sampled 31 combine harvesters to determine where and how much weedy rice seeds remained on the machines at three locations in Jiangsu Province, China. Based on the sampling results, the field area over which weedy rice seeds were retained on the combine harvester during harvesting was estimated to assess the within-field dispersibility of weedy rice seeds remaining in the harvesters. A tracking experiment was also carried out by tracing the distribution of weedy rice seeds along harvest trails, to estimate the dispersal of weedy rice seeds within the field being harvested. Weedy rice seeds remained in the harvest pocket, on the pedrail, and the metal plate of the combine harvester. On average, more than 5000 weedy rice seeds which were 22.80% of remaining grains could potentially be transported into adjacent fields by the combine after each rice field infested with weedy rice had been harvested. Of the statistical models compared, a double exponential model simulating the variation in seed retention predicted that weedy rice seeds remaining on the metal plate could be dispersed over 6473.91 m2 or 3236.96 m into the next field during the harvesting operation. Within the field, the number of fallen weedy rice seeds and their dispersal distance were positively correlated to weedy rice panicle density with the combine dispersing most of seeds away from their mother plant thus creating new weed patches. Therefore, fields that were severely infested with weedy rice should be harvested cautiously and separately and seed remaining in a harvester should be avoided to prevent intra- and inter-field, and even cross-regional dispersal of weedy rice.


Human-mediated seed dispersal Seed retention curves Weed biology Agricultural activity Harvesting operation 



We would like to thank Dr. Bernal E. Valverde for improving the manuscript.

Funding information

This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31500350), the National Key Research and Development Programme (2016YFD0200805), the China Transgenic Organism Research and Commercialization Project (2016ZX08011-001), the Agrotechnical Innovation Projects of Jiangsu Province (SXGC(2016)S321600-17), and the Key Support Programmes for Introduction of High-level Overseas Cultural and Educational Experts.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pinglei Gao
    • 1
  • Zheng Zhang
    • 1
  • Guojun Sun
    • 2
  • Haiyan Yu
    • 3
  • Sheng Qiang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Weed Research LaboratoryNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Jintan District Plant Protection and Quarantine StationChangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Sucheng District Agriculture Technology and Popularization CenterSuqianPeople’s Republic of China

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