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Weeds Out of Control

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Spraying weeds with chemicals has always been costly. Now it is costly and ineffective, with resistance to herbicides pervasive and demanding a new strategy to protect crops.

Herbicides can no longer control the weeds that threaten crop productivity and food security in the UK because the plants have evolved resistance, and future control must depend on management strategies that reduce reliance on chemicals.

A nationwide epidemiological assessment of the factors that are driving the abundance and spread of the major agricultural weed, black-grass, was the focus of collaborative work led by the University of Sheffield, with Rothamsted Research and the Zoological Society of London.

The team mapped the density of black-grass populations across 70 farms in England, collecting seed from 132 fields. They also collected historical management data for all fields to address the question “which management factors are driving black-grass abundance and herbicide resistance?” Their findings are published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Continue reading at Rothamsted Research

Image via Rothamsted Research