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Weed control, management, ecology, and minutia
Comments:
by Steven Fennimore
on May 2, 2016 at 7:32 AM
Sarah  
thank for the posting. I would like to make 2 points about this. There obviously is a lot of interest in herbicide resistance and its effects. It seems pretty obvious that herbicide resistance is a symptom of a problem that we need to deal with. Do we manage herbicide resistance by studying its spread and mechanisms? Or should we be studying systems where herbicide resistance does not occur and learn why it does not occur there.  
two points  
1. Herbicide resistance is a result of lack of diversity in weed management (Shaner & Beckie 2014 Pest management Science 70:1329-1339). California vegetables have diverse and redundant weed management systems and have stability in the system. Redundancy needs to be introduced into the WM system for perennials. if we don't look we won't find.  
2. Herbicide resistance is a result of over dependence on a short list of herbicides. Public weed scientist keep saying "we need new herbicide mechanisms". But wishes won't make it so. New chemistries cost $300 million and there will be few coming out in the future.  
 
I will continue to argue that searching for diversity in weed control methods should be of a much higher priority than description of herbicide resistant weed populations.  
Steve Fennimore
by Brad Hanson
on May 2, 2016 at 8:46 AM
Steve,  
 
Weed science is a discipline with broad range of research topics - genetics is one end of the spectrum.  
 
Molecular tools and techniques can reveal interesting things about factors underlying "weedy" problems such as herbicide resistance like Sarah explained in her post. Similar techniques are being used to explore aspects of invasiveness, dormancy, response to climate factors, etc. Geneticists gotta do genetics...  
 
Other weed scientists focus on biology, population dynamics, chemical control, non-chemical control, robotics, sensors, identification, etc. Weeds are diverse, plastic, and responsive at the population level to the selective forces imposed by agriculturalists or the environment.  
 
Seems like there's room and need for the range of scientists and scientific approaches that address weed issues.  
 
Brad
by Ken Kmiecik
on May 2, 2016 at 4:11 PM
I find that looking at the underlying genetics of any problem is part of devising a system of control / production and the deployment of our available tools. I agree that there is a very short list of herbicides available. I might argue that the short list is not just the 300 million dollar price tag but it is also the result of a structure with an over dependent on private research guided stockholder returns. It is stockholder returns and profit that drove putting Round Up resistance in every crop and over use ... not good science. I agree that systems study is crucial but having the elements of picture remains important. Having this data on the ease and frequency of mutations possibly makes the argument stronger next time to look at the system and not just a component. Maybe the picture we need to hold and the arguments we make as scientists is broader than we realize.
 
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