can be difficult—or impossible!—to manage alone, not the least because weeds
are pesky in their ability to spread from farm to farm. Based on this simple concept, along with a lot of less-simple research to back us up, a group of academics and extension educators from the University of Idaho, Washington State University, and Oregon State University are piloting four Community Herbicide Resistance Management Initiatives in the Pacific Northwest.
These groups are composed of wheat farmers, conservation district members, NRCS reps, and others located on the Camas Prairie, the Palouse, in Douglas County (WA), and in Morrow County (OR). Each group meets once per month via Zoom to work through a Community Management Toolkit and answer questions that will help define the problem, metrics for successful management, potential barriers, and specific techniques and steps to reach community-wide herbicide resistance management goals.
As of now, each group has had 1-2 meetings. I have been extremely impressed with the energy, excitement, dedication, and creativity in each of these meetings. I’ve been working on the human dimension of herbicide resistance for over 6 years, and yet I’m still continuously encountering new and innovative ideas for weed management.
Some examples that have come from these meetings include:
- An emergency weed management fund, available upon application to help manage the weeds of farmers who are dealing with emergency scenarios such as health issues, natural disasters, etc.
- Cooperative ownership of innovative weed management machinery, such as the Weed-It (pdf) or Harrington Seed Destructor
- Incentive payments, overseen by NRCS, for farmers maintaining clean fields; defined as fewer than 10 Russian thistle plants smaller than a volleyball per 100 acres in the first two years, decreasing to fewer than 5 in the third year
These ideas are exciting because they’re novel and have the potential to improve resistance management while also making farmers’ lives a little easier. But they’re also a bracing example of the innovation and energy that will be needed to address herbicide resistance effectively. It can be easy to get pessimistic about herbicide resistance and our capacity to manage it, but these groups have demonstrated a lot of reasons for optimism.
It’s my hope that as we continue to meet and push forward we’ll be able to direct our collective creativity towards practical solutions that extend beyond our current weed management limitations.
But I’d also like to hear from you; do you ever feel pessimistic about our collective ability to manage herbicide resistance? What breaks you out of that cycle and gives you hope? Do you think community management is one tool that can help make that shift?