Integrated weed management combines biological, cultural, mechanical and chemical practices to manage weeds. The overall goal is to develop a program that improves or maintains crop production, farm revenue and environmental quality.
- Time cultivation based on pulses of weed seed germination and growth and the time of crop emergence.
- Use propane flame-burners during times of high field moisture.
- Apply natural and synthetic mulches.
- Adjust seeding date to allow quicker emergence and a more competitive crop.
- Plant at the maximum adapted population using seeds with a high germination rate.
- Quick canopy-forming varieties help the crop competitiveness over weeds within and between rows.
Why do we care about weeds?
Weeds reduce crop yield by competing for water, light, soil nutrients, and space. In agricultural crops, weeds can reduce crop quality by contaminating the commodity. They can serve as hosts for diseases or provide shelter for insects to overwinter. They may interfere with harvest operations. Also, some weeds produce chemical substances that are toxic to crops, animals or people.
There are some benefits provided by weeds. They can provide nectar for pollinators and habitat and feed for wildlife. They can add organic matter to soil and may help stabilize soil.
The weed management team (Phil Westra, Scott Nissan and Todd Gaines) is studying weed resistance to herbicides. Gaines’ research seeks to identify the molecular and genetic basis of complex herbicide resistance mechanisms, utilizing next-generation sequencing to study complex traits in weeds.
Cropweed Management, Montana State University
Flame Weeding for Vegetable Crops, National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service has several publications on weed management.