Left uncontrolled, weeds would destroy even a half of crop yields


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Scientists from Weed Science Society of America and Kansas State University conducted a 7 years (2007-2013) research regarding the weed influence on corn and soybeans yields in the U.S. and Canada. They aimed to examine if weeds are still important plant pest. This fact is increasingly questioned, among others, due to the use of new varieties of plants that are more resilient and fertile.

Researchers took the yield data from corn and soybean trials, specifically the untreated plot yield, and yield from plots with their best weed control methods. Then they took the difference and calculate how much yield loss happened. To determine the total potential impact of weeds on the crops the scientists used data from these trials, plus the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service and Statistics Canada on how many acres were harvested of those crops and the value of the crops over the years.

Thanks to those data, researchers established, that if weeds were allowed to grow with no control measures, about half of corn (avg. 49.5%) and soybean (52%) crops across the United States and Canada would be lost, costing growers about $43 billion annually.

However, due to the harmful environmental impact of herbicides, researchers recommend to consider the application of other methods (biological, mechanical, cultural) or more than just one at a time. Especially in the case of weeds that have the ability to develop partial or total resistance to an agent which is continuously used for their control. On the other hand, it is recommended to perform an in-depth study of the weed species composition on the field as well as their biology in order to use the precise strategy to combat them. This approach enables to avoid the excessive and unnecessary environmental pollution and reduce the likelihood of the development of resistance in weeds.

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