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In the fight against herbicide resistance, farmers are working with a shrinking toolkit. Waterhemp, a weedy nemesis of corn and soybean farmers, has developed resistance to multiple herbicide modes of action, often in the same plant. Even farmers using the latest recommendations for tank mixtures are fighting an uphill battle, with long-distance movement of pollen and seeds bringing the potential for new types of resistance into their fields each year.
In a study released this week, scientists at the University of Illinois and USDA's Agricultural Research Service offer a new tool that is not only highly effective, it's free. All it costs is a conversation.
Point - Farmers - Tools - Tool - People
"I think we're at a point now where farmers are looking for new tools. This tool is free, but it requires that people talk to each other and work together as opposed to doing everything on their own," says Adam Davis, research ecologist with USDA-ARS and adjunct professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I.
The tool is cooperative weed management—in other words, making decisions about how to manage herbicide-resistant weeds in cooperation with neighboring farms. The more farms working together, and the larger area covered, the better.
Davis - Team - Efficacy - Farmer - Cooperation
Davis and his team tested the efficacy of farmer cooperation using a computer simulation of waterhemp resistance evolution through time and space. They ran the simulation using real numbers and management practices from the past, starting in 1987, to arrive at a realistic representation of herbicide resistance in waterhemp in 2015. Then they forecast 35 years into the future to determine how resistance might change under different management and cooperation scenarios.
"The crux of the story is that if you do good stuff and you aggregate it at larger spatial scales, it gets even better. If you do bad stuff and you aggregate it at large spatial scales, it...
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