Weed biology (was information-based farming)

klier at iscsvax.uni.edu klier at iscsvax.uni.edu
Sat Sep 12 10:07:14 EST 1992

samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu (S. A. Modena) writes:
> ...Though some of this may not sound like plant biology to many folks, it
> nonetheless is!  And to phrase an aspect of this another way, we really
> know not-near-enough about weed biology! ...

I believe that our near-total reliance on spray-and-pray has
allowed us to forget many of the *cultural* controls practiced only
50 years ago.  The recent weed texts spend MUCH more space on what-kills-
what than they do on the life history of the species.  Pick up Muenscher's
old weeds book and compare to a modern text.  My contention has always
been that you are better able to deal with a weed when you understand
its biology and you are better equipped to bring a variety of low-cost
controls into play.  

I think this is nowhere more evident than in home lawns, where pesticide
and herbicide use per acre is much higher than on an average "chemical
farm".   We're always looking for the easy way out, the no-brain solution.
Probably the most common question I get here in the herbarium from the 
general public is, "I found this in my yard.  How do I kill it before
it takes over?"  About 75% of the time, the species involved is a
garden plant that would never compete well with a well cared for lawn.*
And the low tech method, hand-weeding, might require 10 minutes to 
eradicate the "problem".

* This year's pest species in lawns: tomato and pepper plants (sewage sludge
application), Pelargonium seedlings, Poa annua (not a problem in this area),
and a Cardiospermum halicacabum (which is not winter hardy here).  Each 
of these homeowners wanted to apply a couple of tons of herbicide to their

Kay Klier     Biology Dept    UNI

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