In a world where technology offers a quick fix to our weed problems, but inevitably leaves us with unintended consequences, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Brookings, SD, Dr. Randy Anderson offers an approach to weed science that says “wait a minute”, what are we doing? In our systems to encourage or reduce weed proliferation before we consider which herbicide to use? To begin to grapple with this question, we have to understand the fate of the weed seed. Dr. Anderson considers weed seed when on the surface of the soil and when buried. Join us in this, the first of three discussions as Dr. Anderson shows us how we can use natural systems to reduce weed populations and save on herbicides.
As Dr. Anderson says, “A key point is when you leave the weed seeds on the soil surface you enhance these fates [predation, environmental exposure, natural death]. In other words, predation is much greater if insects can reach the seeds – if they are buried in the soil, the insects do not process the soil looking for weed seeds so therefore tillage actually protects seeds. Almost all studies with weeds seeds have shown that when you bury them in soil the weed seeds live longer and survive longer.”