Loss of ability to control weeds could drive up food prices
New methods needed to prevent weed domination
By Kate Ayers
With the list of herbicide resistant weeds increasing, producers are urged to diversify their approach to weed control now.
Adam Davis, an ecologist in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois and USDA Agricultural Research Service and George Frisvold, an economist at the University of Arizona, recently met up to discuss our ability to control weeds with current herbicides, according to a university release on Wednesday.
The price of food could rise with inadequate weed control.
“I think the future of cheap food is strongly related to the availability and effectiveness of existing herbicides,” said Davis in the release.
There are many weeds that have become resistant to various modes of action (MOA), among the 16 herbicide categories.
“In some areas, we are one or two MOAs away from completely losing chemical control for certain weeds,” said Davis.
“And there are no new herbicide MOAs coming out. There haven’t been for 30 years.”
According to Davis, introducing a small winter grain or a forage into the crop rotation is a more effective system to manage weeds, versus planting two summer annuals (corn-soybean) following each other. A more diverse crop rotation destabilizes the weed population.
“Then, you build in things like weed suppressive cultivars, banded herbicides, row spacing, cultivation, (and) harvest weed seed control … We’ve shown you can reduce herbicide use by 90 per cent in diversified systems and get the same amount of weed control,” said Davis.