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Archive for the ‘Weeds’ Category

University of Florida offers online course on weed management and hydroponic vegetables

Weed Management runs from October 18 to November 12, 2021, and has been approved for CEUs in the state of Florida. It is taught by Dr. Chris Marble, assistant professor of ornamental and landscape weed management in the Department of Environmental Horticulture at the University of Florida. Growers in the course have described him as an instructor who “is very methodical and easy to learn from” who presents “weed management in an in-depth, clear manner.”

Hydroponic Vegetable Production runs from October 25 to November 19, 2021. The course is taught by a team of instructors from the University of Florida and Cornell University. The team includes Bob Hochmuth, Assistant Center Director for the UF/IFAS North Florida Research & Education Center at Live Oak and Regional Specialized Extension Agent for commercial vegetable crops, and Tatiana Sanchez, Commercial Horticulture Agent for UF/IFAS in Alachua County. Past participants have liked “how the course walked me through all aspects of hydroponics” and described the instructors as “attentive, responsive, and enthusiastic.”

Each course costs $US249 per participant, with a 20% discount if you register five or more. The courses are held entirely online and include pre-recorded videos, an interactive discussion board with Ph.D. professors, and quizzes. Course material is available any time of the day in English and in Spanish, and two new modules are activated each week during each course, for a total of 8 learning modules. Click here to register (http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/).For more information:
UF/IFAS
www.ifas.ufl.edu

Publication date: Wed 29 Sep 2021

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The prototype will be presented at Macfrut by the Italian company Bagioni

How to weed organic asparagus mechanically

A system that keeps the asparagus field clean of weeds, through mechanical weeding, without increasing costs is Aurenzo Bagioni’s latest solution which will be presented at Macfrut, during the Asparagus Days.

The Forlì-based company Bagioni, which already produces asparagus harvesting machines, will present this new concept in Rimini, Italy. This accessory is mounted on the back of the asparagus harvesting machines and is particularly aimed at organic farms but can also be used by those who cultivate using conventional methods. Basically, the concept is based on a weeder that allows the central part (30-50 centimeters) – where the asparagus grows – to remain free, but moves the soil laterally at each harvesting operation, to an adjustable depth of 1-3 centimeters. You don’t have to do any extra work, but the device works when you harvest.

Given that the harvest takes place every day, the idea was to attach a weeder to the back of the machine, keeping the central 50 centimeters free for the asparagus to grow. This daily operation should keep the soil moving and prevent the grass from growing.

We had already seen this prototype in June 2021, but Bagioni asked not to announce it until the end of August, because he was thinking of filing a patent.

“This concept is being presented with the aim of understanding whether the idea is interesting to customers and then possibly start building it,” concluded the owner.

For more information: 
Bagioni Alfiero Snc 
Via Bologna 100
47121 Forlì – Italy
+39 0543 703993
bagioni.aurenzo@libero.it
www.asparagus.it  

Publication date: Thu 26 Aug 2021

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Pigweed shows resistance in spots to glyphosate, ALS, HPPD and PPOs

Eric Jones/NCSU_Eric Jones_NCSU-Waterhemp.jpgWes Everman urges farmers to be on the lookout for water hemp on their farms.Everman stresses the importance of pre-emergent herbicides, postemergent herbicides and residuals.

John Hart | Aug 24, 2021SUGGESTED EVENT

Events Page - Farm Progress Show 2021

Farm Progress ShowAug 31, 2021 to Sep 02, 2021

North Carolina State University Extension Weed Specialist Wes Everman continues to urge North Carolina farmers to be on the lookout for resistant waterhemp, redroot pigweed and Palmer amaranth across the state.

Speaking at the Blacklands Farm Managers Tour Aug. 4 at Turnpike Farms in Pantego, N.C., Everman said Palmer amaranth is now showing resistance in spots across North Carolina to glyphosate, ALS, HPPD and PPO technologies. He noted that testing is also underway to see if Palmer amarnath is resistant to atrazine. He also said resistant redroot pigweed is popping up in spots across the state. https://dc33b5251deac1ea475e6c827fe410e1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Once again, Everman urged farmers to use multiple modes of action as the key to resistance management. He stressed the importance of pre-emergent herbicides, postemergent herbicides and residuals.

“I see folks going out with jut 2,4-D, just dicamba, or just Liberty with no residual in the tank, no other  product in the tank. That’s a recipe for disaster,” Everman told the crowd at the Blacklands tour.

Everman noted that when one product quits working, farmers shift to another and then switch again and switch again. “We don’t get away from resistance by doing that. We want to use these residuals, our Group 15s, Dual, Warrant, Zidua, and our Group 14s, Valor, Spartan and Reflex.”ADVERTISING

The use of both pre-emergence and postemergence herbicides is a must. He said such products as Flexstar, Cobra and Blazer can generally be used across the farm. He also said metribuzin is generally a safe option as well. He stressed the importance of rotating Liberty, Enlist and Xtend traits.

“If we can rotate them in a season, even better. We can’t just pick one technology and wear it out and then hope to go to the next. I don’t think that’s going to work, and we’re only talking about three products. How long do we have if we don’t start switching now?” Everman said.

Everman pointed out the new weeds are coming into the state primarily through equipment that is purchased from Midwestern states and then brought into North Carolina. He also said waterfowl can move weed seed from one part of the state to another. He said it has been confirmed that water hemp was introduced into North Carolina from a combine purchased in the Midwest and brought to North Carolina.

He urged farmers to be on the lookout for water hemp on their farms. It is different than Palmer and redroot pigweed in that it has thin leaves and shorter petioles. He said it is hairless, like Palmer.

“If you have a weed that looks like it might be Palmer, but looks a little funny, get in touch with your county agent or Charlie (Cahoon, also a North Carolina State Extension weed specialist) or me. We want to make sure. We don’t want to see water hemp pop up in too many places,” Everman said.

In addition to keeping an eye out for water hemp, redroot pigweed and Palmer amaranth, Everman urged Blackland farmers to be on the lookout for common ragweed. He said just north of the Blacklands, in northeastern North Carolina, common ragweed has shown three-way resistance to glyphosate, ALS and PPO inhibitors.

“It (common ragweed) could move on equipment down here. Water hemp came to North Carolina from the Midwest. Pretty much everything we have identified in North Carolina has moved on equipment. They brought it here and they brought along seed issues,” he said.

“The No. 1 piece you can move weed seeds with is a combine. If you have a weedy patch, if you’re bringing a combine from another farm, if you’re getting help from somebody, if you have time and you have the opportunity, clean that thing from front to back. Try  to get as much seed out of it as you can. This is an inherited problem, something that came along with the equipment,” Everman said.

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Is THIS the key to wiping out ? Removal of moisture has a 100% success rate at killing the invasive plant – and is much more effective than herbicide, study finds

  • Scientists said removing moisture from Japanese knotweed kills invasive plant
  • They had a ‘100 per cent success rate’ after drying out plants in lab conditions
  • Their discovery shows that the plant it ‘not as indestructible’, researchers said
  • Japanese knotweed is a plant found in many areas of Europe and North America

By SAM TONKIN FOR MAILONLINE

PUBLISHED: 07:06 EDT, 19 August 2021 | UPDATED: 07:39 EDT, 19 August 2021

Japanese knotweed is a devastatingly invasive plant that can leave homeowners and gardeners in a bind. 

But scientists might just have a new solution on how to kill it that they say is much more effective than herbicide.

It involves removing moisture from the plants by drying them out in a lab, although researchers said more tests in the field are needed to see how this would work in the real world before any advice or commercial product is made available to the public.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.476.0_en.html#goog_1797203280PauseNext video0:24Full-screenRead More

The study by the National University of Ireland Galway and University of Leeds found that removing moisture had a ‘100 per cent success rate’ in killing Japanese knotweed, which can break through bricks, concrete and mortar.

Their discovery shows that the plant is ‘not as indestructible’ as thought, according to the study’s co-author Dr Mark Fennell.Scientists might just have a new solution on how to kill Japanese knotweed that they say is much more effective than herbicide. Pictured are some of the samples they experimented with+6

Scientists might just have a new solution on how to kill Japanese knotweed that they say is much more effective than herbicide. Pictured are some of the samples they experimented withJapanese knotweed (pictured) is a problematic plant found in many areas of Europe and North America. Notably, in the UK, the species can cause issues with mortgage acquisition+6

Japanese knotweed (pictured) is a problematic plant found in many areas of Europe and North America. Notably, in the UK, the species can cause issues with mortgage acquisition

Japanese knotweed 

Japanese Knotweed is a species of plant that has bamboo-like stems and small white flowers.

Native to Japan, the plant is considered an invasive species. 

The plant, scientific name Fallopia japonica, was brought to Britain by the Victorians as an ornamental garden plant and to line railway tracks to stabilise the soil.

It has no natural enemies in the UK, whereas in Asia it is controlled by fungus and insects.

In the US it is scheduled as an invasive weed in 12 states, and can be found in a further 29.

It is incredibly durable and fast-growing, and can seriously damage buildings and construction sites if left unchecked.

The notorious plant strangles other plants and can kill entire gardens. 

Capable of growing eight inches in one day it deprives other plants of their key nutrients and water.https://5772890968515b3f00a684ae0e95aa20.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The research found that incorrect herbicide treatment cannot control the growth and regeneration of Japanese knotweed, but that fully drying the plant material in a lab environment allowed it to be returned to the soil without risk of regrowth.

It also showed that if there are no nodes attached to the rhizomes (root-like underground shoots) there is no regeneration. Nodes are the points on a plant’s stem where buds and leaves originate.

Senior author of the study, Dr Karen Bacon, from NUI Galway, said: ‘Our finding that the removal of moisture has a 100 per cent success rate on killing Japanese knotweed plants and preventing regrowth after they were replanted also raises an important potential means of management for smaller infestations that are common in urban environments.’

She said it ‘requires additional field trials’ that her university hopes to carry out soon.

Japanese knotweed is a problematic plant found in many areas of Europe and North America. Notably, in the UK, the species can cause issues with mortgage acquisition. 

It can grow up to 10ft in height and can dominate an area to the exclusion of most other plants. 

Controlling Japanese knotweed is complicated by its ability to regenerate from small fragments of plant material; however, there remains uncertainty about how much rhizome is required and how likely successful regeneration is under different scenarios. 

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‘Ten years ago this was science fiction’: the rise of weedkilling robots
A robot made by Carbon Robotics kills weeds on farmland using lasers. Photograph: Carbon Robotics

MON, 16 AUG, 2021 – 14:16PÁDRAIG BELTON

In the corner of an Ohio field, a laser-armed robot inches through a sea of onions, zapping weeds as it goes.

This field doesn’t belong to a dystopian future but to Shay Myers, a third-generation farmer who began using two robots last year to weed his 30-acre crop. The robots – which are nearly three metres long, weigh 4,300kg and resemble a small car – clamber slowly across a field, scanning beneath them for weeds which they then target with laser bursts.

“For microseconds, you watch these reddish colour bursts. You see the weed, it lights up as the laser hits, and it’s just gone,” said Myers. “Ten years ago this was science fiction.” Other than engine sounds, the robots are almost silent and each one can destroy 100,000 weeds an hour, according to Carbon Robotics, the company that makes them.

Carbon Robotics, in common with other agri-robotic startups, emphasizes the environmental benefits these machines can bring to farming by helping to reduce soil disturbance, which can contribute to erosion, and allowing farmers to heavily reduce or even eradicate the use of herbicides.

Farmers across the globe are under increasing pressure to reduce their use of herbicides and other chemicals, which can contaminate ground and surface water, affect wildlife and non-target plants, and have been linked to increased cancer risk. At the same time, they are battling a rise in herbicide-resistant weeds, giving extra impetus to the search for new ways to kill weeds.

“Reduced herbicide usage is one of the spectacular outcomes of precision weeding,” said Gautham Das, a senior lecturer in agri-robotics at the University of Lincoln in the UK. Destroying weeds with lasers or ultraviolet light uses no chemicals at all. But even with robots that do use herbicides, their ability to precisely target weeds can reduce the use by about 90% compared with conventional blanket spraying, Das said.

Five years ago there were almost no companies specializing in farm robots, said Sébastien Boyer, the French-born head of San Francisco-based robot weeding company FarmWise, but it’s now “a booming field”.

The global market for these agricultural robots – which can also be designed to perform tasks such as seeding, harvesting and environmental monitoring – is predicted to increase from $5.4bn (€4.58bn) in 2020 to more than $20bn (€16.98bn) by 2026. “Things scale up very quickly in agriculture,” said Myers.

FarmWise found its first customers in California’s Salinas Valley, which grows lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and strawberries and is known as “America’s salad bowl”. Ten of the US’s 20 largest vegetable growers, in California and Arizona, now use the company’s robot weeders, according to Boyer. “In the beginning, they started working with us as an experiment, but now they are heavily relying on us”.

Removing pests, such as aphids, thrips and lygus bugs, is a next step for FarmWise. Robots can markedly reduce the use of fungicides and pesticides, said Boyer, by applying them more precisely, using computer vision.

As well as concerns over farming chemicals, labour shortages also play a part in robots’ advance into farmland. Farm labour can be “expensive, hard to come by and dangerous” for people involved, said Myers. 

There are still big challenges to wider-scale adoption. One problem is working in places where a battery recharge is not always readily available, which is a reason some robots – including those made by Carbon Robotics and FarmWise – use diesel for power, which itself produces harmful emissions and pollution.

Danish company FarmDroid’s machines and a herbicide-spraying robot made by Switzerland’s Ecorobotix are both solar-powered.

With batteries rapidly becoming lighter and gaining capacity, farm robots could soon be electrified, said Paul Mikesell, head of Carbon Robotics. This must be accompanied by charging infrastructure on farms, said Rose. “I don’t think we’re far away at all,” he added.

In the meantime, using fewer herbicides may be worth some diesel use, said Richard Smith, a weed science farm adviser from University of California at Davis. “In comparison to all the other tractor work that is done on intensive vegetable production fields, the amount used for the auto-weeders is a small per cent,” he said.

Another challenge is cost. These robots are still expensive, though broader adoption is likely to bring costs down. Carbon Robotics’s robot costs roughly the same as a mid-size tractor – in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

FarmWise sells robots’ weeding labour, rather than the robots themselves, charging roughly $200 (€170) an acre. Selling a weeding service instead of selling robots requires less upfront investment from farmers, said Boyer, and helped get the robotics business off the ground.

“These service models should reduce the cost barrier for most farmers, and they do not have to worry too much about the technical difficulties with these robots,” Das said.

Covid has been a problem, too, impeding access to clients, investors and semiconductors from Asia. The pandemic has “squeezed startups out of the runway”, says Andra Keay, head of the non-profit Silicon Valley Robotics.

But, beyond weeding robots, Covid has also spurred interest in how robots can shorten supply chains.

Robot-run greenhouses can use hydroponics – growing plants without soil – to produce food closer to large population centres like New York, instead of in places like California where soil is richer.

Iron Ox, a robot-powered greenhouse company based in California, has devised a robotic arm which scans each greenhouse plant and creates a 3D model of it to monitor it for disease and pests.

“Not a lot has changed in agriculture, especially in fresh produce, in the last 70 years,” said Brandon Alexander, the head of Iron Ox who grew up in a large Texas farming family. “Robotic farming offers a chance for humanity to address climate change before 2050,” he said.

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TheSWADDLE

Scientists Find a Carnivorous Tobacco Plant That Could Act as Natural Insecticide

By Devrupa Rakshit

Aug 16, 2021

Image Credit: Maarten Christenhusz

Researchers have discovered a wild tobacco plant that traps and kills insects, and may potentially serve as a “natural insecticide” of sorts.

Nicotiana insecticida demonstrates well the adage that ‘tobacco kills‘… although in this case it is insects that become ensnared on its sundew-like glandular hairs and die,” Mark Chase, a scientist at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the U.K., who co-authored the study, said in a statement.

Published last week in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, the study details the discovery of the new plant in a Western Australian highway. The plant has sticky hair on its surface, which enables it to trap insects, and causes it to resemble a “mass grave for small insects — flies, gnats, and aphids,” Mongabay reported.

However, N. insecticida doesn’t dissolve the insects to soak in nutrients from them, and hence isn’t per se “insectivorous.” The purpose behind the plant’s sticky hair is to prevent itself from being eaten by insects.


Related on The Swaddle:

Flowers Are Changing Colors To Adapt To Rising Temperatures, Declining Ozone


So, Chase believes the plant could serve as a “biological control agent” for killing fungus gnats and other undesirable insects in greenhouses.

While N. insecticida hasn’t been approved for commercial use by the Australian government yet, the prospect of a plant doubling up as an insecticide to protect other plants is quite fascinating. Especially so, since chemical-based pesticides and insecticides not only contaminate the environment, but can also be toxic to animals consuming the plants treated with chemicals. In fact, they can harm the human nervous system, endocrine system, and reproductive system too.

“Many plants have sticky glands, but generally they do not kill insects in such numbers… Tomatoes (a relative of the tobaccos) have glands that trap and kill some insects, but not in these numbers and not so regularly,” Chase told Mongabay, suggesting, perhsps, how promising N. insecticida can be as an insecticide — just as it’s name suggests.

WRITTEN BY DEVRUPA RAKSHIT

Devrupa Rakshit is an associate editor with The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, and a painter by shaukh. She has her own podcast called #DateNightsWithD on Spotify. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.

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ALL LATEST NEWSNEWS AUGUST 2021NORTH AMERICASMART FARMINGSUSTAINABILITY

Benefit of cover crops: Covering up weed seeds

on August 12, 2021

More in All latest News:

Cover crops are not free, but they don’t have to be a cost. In fact, they can save farmers money. Researchers and farmers talked about the benefits during a recent session hosted by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association in Canada, as Matt McIntosh reports for Farmtario.

While there is always variability, weed suppression and population reduction are the chief – though not necessarily only – ways cover crops can better a farm’s bottom line. Cover cropping could be justified as another tool to help keep down weed populations as farmers struggle with more herbicide-resistant weeds.

More weeds equal more weed seeds if left uncontrolled. Over time, the weed seed bank within a given area can be substantial, requiring more time, resources and cash to address the problem. Herbicide-tolerant weeds can increase the price tag of effective control. 

Cover crops don’t have to be expensive or complex to have noticeable impacts. Cowbrough’s work shows oats, a comparatively cheap and available cover crop option, broadcast with potash at 50 pounds per acre, add an extra $16 per acre to production costs. Weed populations were much lower. 

Mike Cowbrough, weed management specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, says cereal rye is another cheap “gateway” cover crop option that can drastically reduce weed populations, including those of common and problematic pigweed species, lamb’s quarters and others. 

“Smaller plants are much easier to kill with your herbicide program,” says Cowbrough. 

Source: Farmtario.com. Full story here
Cover photo: Start simple with cover crops and choose species based on goals. Courtesy Farmtario

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Scottish company develops precision farming tool to tackle grassland weeds

The Courier

By Gemma MackieJuly 29 2021, 6.00am

The SKAi technology in action.
The SKAi technology in action.

A Scottish company has developed a precision farming tool to tackle weeds in grassland.

SoilEssentials, based near Brechin, has worked with academics and agronomists to develop a way of using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to overcome the ‘green-on-green’ challenge.

Green-on-green refers to the difficulty faced by farmers in using precision farming technology to guide spray applications of green weeds in a green crop.

SoilEssentials – together with Deimos Space UK, University of the West of England and Scottish Agronomy Ltd – has developed a precision farming system to tackle green weeds in green crops.

The system named SKAi – the SoilEssentials KORE Artificial Intelligence platform – uses AI components which can be trained to recognise broad-leaved weeds growing in grass crops and then take control of a crop sprayer to apply targeted weed control sprays to the grassland.

“Green-on-green species recognition is probably the biggest challenge we must overcome if farmers are to benefit from the efficiencies of automated targeted weed control in the future,” said Dr Gregor Welsh from SoilEssentials

“I am delighted to report on the progress our SKAi project has made towards overcoming this challenge. We are now able to train SKAi to target weeds in grass fields and automate the sprayer control via our machine mounted hardware.”

Real-time technology

He said the SKAi technology works in real-time and the on-board AI is set up to constantly scan the vegetation to identify and selectively treat the weeds as the spray boom passes over.

“Trials of the system are showing high levels of success in the spraying of docks in grass fields and we are confident that our partnership will be able to progress SKAi until it can recognise and differentiate between a wide range of weed and cash crop species,” added Dr Welsh.

SoilEssentials hardware director, Graham Ralston, said there was scope to develop the technology for use in the wider farming industry.

He said: “There are many situations where blanket herbicide application across a whole field is undesirable – I’m thinking of broad leaf weed control in swards containing clover, for example.

“Ultimately, our challenge is to refine the technology until targeted control can be achieved even in what would appear to be difficult scenarios – for example, blackgrass in wheat crops. And, of course we must also make sure that the system makes affordable economic sense versus existing spray application methods.”

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/business/farming/farming-news/931404/smart-cameras-to-cut-agrochemicals-usage/embed/#?secret=JDhqTkahZa

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Weed electrocution research sparks interest as herbicide resistance impedes current methods

July 29, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.COURTESY PHOTO The United Soybean Board, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and the Weed Zapper company are partners in this weed electrocution research project.

COLUMBIA — Move over, herbicides. There’s a new sheriff in town. And he’s toting some powerful guns loaded with electricity to kill weeds.

This shocking new method of weed control was demonstrated at the 2021 Pest Management Field Day at the University of Missouri Bradford Research Center in Columbia.

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As more weeds develop resistance to herbicides, electrocution may be the weed management approach of the future, says MU Extension weed scientist Kevin Bradley. MU graduate student Haylee Schreier has studied weed electrocution in row crops for the past two years under Bradley’s direction.

The is of special interest to Bradley because it might be the answer to Missouri’s growing waterhemp problem. A prolific producer of seeds, waterhemp is Missouri’s No. 1 weed problem and one of 14 weeds that are herbicide-resistant.

Two brothers in Illinois with backgrounds in farming and engineering designed The Weed Zapper machine. A different pair of brothers purchased the technology and manufacture Weed Zappers at a plant in Sedalia, Mo.

The Weed Zapper model used in MU research has a copper boom that attaches to the front of a tractor. Driven by a PTO, it hits weeds with 15,000 volts of electricity from a 110,000-watt generator on the back of the tractor. Models cost between $42,000 and $72,000.

Metal wheels are grounded, and booms adjust to different heights. Tractor speed is about 2-4 miles per hour, Bradley says. Weed kill is best at lower speeds and is even more effective on some of the more challenging weeds when used at seven-day intervals in late summer.

Schreier’s data shows that by the end of the season there is almost complete control of giant ragweed, common ragweed, marestail and waterhemp. It is slightly less effective on grasses.

The growth stage of soybean and the degree of contact that the boom makes with the foliage influences soybean injury. Soybean yield loss is possible if the boom makes constant contact with the soybean canopy at growth stages R3 or later.

In addition to killing weeds, electrocution also affects the viability of surviving weed seeds. The most impact is seen in waterhemp, where about 65% of seeds become nonviable.

Electrocution is not new to the weed management world, says Bradley. Sugar beet growers in North and South Dakota have been trying this method since the 1950s and 1960s.

The United Soybean Board, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and the Weed Zapper company are partners in this project.

Learn more about Weed Zappers at http://www.TheWeedZapper.com.

Weed electrocution research shows promising results for weed management, especially in waterhemp, Missouri’s No. 1 weed problem. The Weed Zapper attaches to a tractor and kills in-row weeds with high-voltage electricity. Photo by Linda Geist.

For more than 100 years, University of Missouri Extension has extended university-based knowledge beyond the campus into all counties of the state. In doing so, Extension has strengthened families, businesses and communities. MU Extension news: extension.missouri.edu/news.

Print Headline: Weed electrocution research sparks interest as herbicide resistance impedes current methods

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Farming

Invasive alien plants pose major threat to farmland biodiversity 

Old man's beard
Japanese knotweed
Rhododendron
Himalayan balsam
Giant hogweed

Old man’s beard

Claire Mc Cormack  

August 03 2021 02:30 AM


Great care must be exercised when setting land parcels aside for biodiversity under the next CAP due to the risks posed by invasive alien species, a field expert has warned.

More than 100 invasive alien species now scourge hedges, waterways, uplands, roadways and some grasslands nationwide, outcompeting all native vegetation in their wake and making soil more vulnerable to erosion.

These species were introduced to Ireland from abroad centuries ago, often for decorative garden purposes.

At EU level, plants like Japanese knotweed, Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, Old man’s beard and Rhododendron are seen as “key drivers” of ecosystem collapse and targets have now been set to reverse this decline via CAP reform.

Japanese knotweed

Japanese knotweed

However, Dr William Earle, a dairy farmer and leading invasive alien species specialist with INVAS Biosecurity, urges caution on such action.

“With CAP reform, there is huge opportunity to help with biodiversity on farms, but there is also a possibility that farms might open themselves up to exposure of invasive alien species by putting biodiversity areas aside,” he said. “This could lead to an opportunity for invaders to establish in these new niches, accidentally creating invasive alien species reservoirs.

“Often, it’s best to let native species regenerate naturally because they’ve evolved in an area over time. If different seeds are brought in, it raises the risk of introducing invasive species, particularly if close to a pathway, river or road.”

Dr Earle, who will carry out research on the issue with leading Irish institutions, said farms with watercourses are “particularly vulnerable” to invasion.

“Often it’s accidental introduction — many species travel down rivers and along corridors. Since the development of big machinery, there are huge problems with Japanese knotweed being dug up and moved, fragments the size of a thumbnail will grow again. In summer, it becomes so dominant it kills off all native vegetation, leaving nothing but bare exposed soil behind in winter.”

Giant hogweed generates about 70,000 seeds and harbours “a highly-toxic sap”. “If it gets onto your skin and is exposed to UV light, it creates huge blisters and skin damage can recur. It spreads rapidly on watercourses or in flooding.

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

“It’s very important that farmers seek advice on how to treat or kill each species, especially near watercourses — it’s not like dealing with general weeds. You must isolate the problem, manage it and make that land usable again. If it’s not dealt with, it will only get worse,” he said.
Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist, Catherine Keena, has seen whole fields “almost covered” in white bindweed and Himalayan balsam taking over rivers and swamps in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).

“The rivers are really bad — it is serious,” Ms Keena said. Old man’s beard is taking over hedges; on the upland farms, rhododendron and giant rhubarb are a big problem.

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam

“My attitude to a biodiversity plan is before planting a hedge, a margin or bird cover, if you see an invasive alien species, the most important thing is to deal with it. It’s very wrong to spend money doing a hedge, while letting something else run riot.”

Giant hogweed

Giant hogweed

Colette O’Flynn of the National Biodiversity Data Centre said there is a yearly increase in the number of invasive alien species sightings. She urged farmers “not to cut, mow, strim or disturb” these plants.

Farming Newsletter

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Graduate Students in Nepal Uncover the Impacts of Climate Change and Invasive Weed Species Spread

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Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab

Jul 27, 2021

Anju Sharma Paudel
Anju Sharma Paudel

This post is written by Sara Hendery, communications coordinator for the Feed the Future Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Innovation Lab

Virginia Tech’s Feed the Future IPM Innovation Lab is celebrating the work of 27 students funded by one of its projects. 

The IPM Innovation Lab collaborates with Tribhuvan University and the University of Virginia’s Biocomplexity Institute to assess the spread of invasive weeds over the last 30 years — based on elevation and under different climate scenarios — in central Nepal. The project has found that as climate change events continue to occur, invasive weeds are spreading faster and higher than ever before. 

Over the course of this six-year project, many research findings have been uncovered by graduate students supported by the project’s funding. Post-graduation, those students are now working at high levels within the Nepal government, universities and the private sector. They have also participated in more than 45 international and national conference presentations and published more than three dozen research papers in national and international scientific journals, with more being developed.

“Student research, with the guidance of experts and advisors, has been at the helm of some of the most exciting research to come out of this project,” said Pramod Jha, Professor Emeritus at Tribhuvan University and the project lead. “Some have uncovered, for example, incredibly valuable biocontrol options for some of Nepal’s most pressing invasive weed issues as well as assessed the shrinking land availability of critical food crops communities depend on. These students are just at the beginning of recognizing the long-term impacts of climate change and this initial research will propel them into future careers where they can actually see their work come to life.”

Take, for example, soon-to-be graduate Seerjana Maharjan. Maharjan is earning her Ph.D. from Tribhuvan University, researching the ecology and management of the invasive weed Parthenium hysterophorus, which causes human, animal and environmental health issues. Her research considers the possibility of winter rust as a biocontrol agent of parthenium and projects the increased suitable habitat of parthenium under future climate scenarios. Post-graduation, Maharjan will serve as a scientific officer in Nepal’s Department of Plant Resources, Ministry of Forest and Environment

Dol Raj Luitel also works as a senior scientific officer in Nepal’s Department of Plant Resources, Ministry of Forestry and Environment. Earning his Ph.D. at Tribhuvan University, Luitel’s research explores the impact of climate change on distribution, production and cropping patterns of finger millet and buckwheat along altitudinal gradients in Nepal. His research assesses the medicinal value of finger millet, the declining habitat of buckwheat under future climate scenarios, and the important nutrients that can be found in finger millet and soil at varying elevations.

Ghanshyam Bhandari earned his Ph.D. from the Agriculture and Forestry University, researching insect diversity of maize and eco-friendly management practices of maize stemborers. Bhandari’s research also assesses the performance of traps for capturing maize insects and farmer perception of climate change in relation to maize cultivation. As a current research officer at the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Bhandari is assisting the IPM Innovation Lab in developing biological control efforts of the invasive fall armyworm in Nepal. 

Hom Nath Giri earned a Ph.D. from the Agriculture and Forestry University and currently serves as an assistant professor of horticulture at his alma mater. His research explores the growth of cauliflower at different ecological zones in Nepal, the effect of nitrogen on the post-harvest quality of cauliflower, and efficacy testing of pesticides against the cabbage butterfly in Nepal.

Anju Sharma Paudel earned a Ph.D. from Tribhuvan University, her research focusing on the management of the invasive weed Ageratina adenophora. Post-graduation, Paudel is continuing to develop her research, predicting the current and future distribution of Ageratina adenophora in Nepal and whether stem-galling of the invasive weed by the biocontrol agent Procecidochares utilis is elevation dependent.

The IPM Innovation Lab supported Ram Asheswar Mandal, a postdoctoral student at Tribhuvan University, over the course of the program. Mandal’s research assesses the impacts of climate change and biological invasion on livelihoods.

The IPM Innovation Lab has also supported 21 master’s-level students in the same project, many of whom now work as agricultural officers for the Nepal government or as lecturers at local universities.

Muni Muniappan, director of the IPM Innovation Lab, said the involvement of students in this project is a win-win for both students and research.

“Students are eager to address the biggest problems of our time,” he said, “whether it be food insecurity, resource limitations, climate change impacts or other constraints. Students bring to these global challenges new perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking that is exactly what is needed to help move the science forward. In return, they receive real-life, hands-on experience in their own country as well as other countries, which further nurtures their problem-solving abilities.”

Graduating master’s students funded by the project includes:

  • Sagar Khadka, Tribhuvan University: Decomposition of Eichhornia crassipes of different fungi in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Bidya Shrestha, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of climate change on biodiversity utilization by smallholder farmers. 
  • Pristi Dangol, Tribhuvan University: Changes in the life history traits of the invasive weed Lantana camara in central Nepal.
  • Yashoda Panthi, Tribhuvan University: Diversity of invasive alien plant species and their impacts on provisioning services in a village of Lamjung district. 
  • Ganga Shah, Tribhuvan University: Distribution of vulture species and its nest site from lowland to highland in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal.
  • Vishubha Thapa, Tribhuvan University: Food access and threats to vultures in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Vivekanand Mahat, Agriculture and Forestry University: Hygiene behavior of the honey bee (Apis cerana. F. and Apis mellifera L.) and diversity of flower visitors in rapeseed (Brassica campestris var. toria). 
  • Sarita Sapkota, Agriculture and Forestry University: Relative abundance of dung beetles and their role in nutrient cycling in Terai and mid hills of Nepal. 
  • Ramesh Upreti, Agriculture and Forestry University: Fruit thinning and defoliation effects on the quality and yield of papaya (Carica papaya) cv. Red Lady under net house conditions at Chitwan. 
  • Madhu Sudan Ghimire, Agriculture and Forestry University: Evaluation of indigenous cultivation of potato against late blight (Phytopthora infestance L.) in Okhaldhunga, Nepal.
  • Pratiksha Sharma, Agriculture and Forestry University: Climate resilient maize production among Chepang and non-Chepang communities in Chitwan, Nepal. 
  • Srijana Paudel, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Mikania micrantha in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Abhisek Singh, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Ipomea carnea ssp fistulosa and spatio-temporal distribution of Lantana camara in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Sita Gyawali, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Chromolaena odorata in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Sandeep Dhakal, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Lantana camara in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Sanjeev Bhandari, Tribhuvan University: Climate change and its impacts on fodder availability in Puranchaur, Kaski district.
  • Himal Yonjon, Tribhuvan University: Spatio-temporal distribution of Eichhornea crassipes in Chitwan Annapurna Landscape, Nepal. 
  • Chandra Paudel, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of Lantana camara on associated species. 
  • Binod Malla, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of Mikania micrantha on associated species. 
  • Aarati Chand, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of Parthenium hysterophorus on associated species. 
  • Nitu Joshi, Tribhuvan University: Impacts of  Chromolaena odorata on associated species.

This invasive weed modeling project is one of nine projects the IPM Innovation Lab currently manages. Since the program’s inception in 1993, it has funded the research of more than 600 students worldwide.FILED UNDER:AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITYCLIMATE AND NATURAL RESOURCESEDUCATION AND EXTENSION

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