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Permalink Analysis Considers Tipping Point of Chemical Weed Control

Adam Davis, ecologist in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois and USDA Agricultural Research Service, worked with George Frisvold, an economist at the University of Arizona, to explore whether we are at a tipping point regarding ability to control agricultural weeds with herbicides currently on the market. Their analysis was published in Pest Management Science. Davis and Frisvold say that with agricultural weeds developing resistance to herbicides, and no new herbicide modes of action on the horizon, herbicide susceptibility is a finite resource. They conclude that as herbicide control of weeds is lost, food prices will rise. Davis says an over-reliance on herbicide for weed control has contributed to the problem, and he recommends returning to more diversified methods of weed control, such as crop rotation and management practices including weed-suppressive cultivars, banded herbicides, row spacing, cultivation, and harvest weed seed control. "We've shown you can reduce herbicide use by 90% in diversified systems and get the same amount of weed control," says Davis.

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