NC1191: Weeds as Phytometers in a Changing Environment
Statement of Issues and JustificationWeed management strategies that have been developed over the last fifty years will be substantially challenged by anticipated changes to the climate. It is critical that adaptive strategies be developed to meet new realities facing U.S. growers. Weeds are found in all agricultural systems, and although they must be managed to prevent crop losses, their wildness offers unique ecosystem services to aid climate mitigation and adaptation. The keen response of weeds to environmental signals makes them inexpensive yet powerful environmental sensors, or phytometers. This characteristic of weeds may be used, in combination with bioclimatic scaling functions, to assist precision timing of weed management practices. Improved timing of weed management has been demonstrated to reduce crop yield losses to weed interference. We propose to demonstrate that Hopkins' Bioclimatic Law can be used to easily and accurately predict weed phenology across the North Central region of the U.S., thereby improving weed management outcomes. The North Central Weed Biology Working Group has a decades-long history (under such project numbers as NC202 and NC1026) of productive regional experimentation with many highly-cited publications to its credit. Our group has successfully completed many projects of the scale and scope described in the current project plan. Distributing measurements of weed phenology across the landscape at a regional scale is a critical part of verifying the use of Hopkins' Law as a predictive tool for timing weed management in the North Central Region. The research proposed here will support the long-range improvement in and sustainability of U.S. agriculture and food systems by improving the ability of agriculture to adapt to, and mitigate, global climate change and maintain agroecosystem function and biodiversity in the face of a changing global environment. A novel outcome of this project in support of these goal is the development of an accurate bioclimatic scaling function in support of precision timing of weed management in current and future climates.
Last Modified: 30-May-2011
Back to Top