Managing your Farm to Increase Weed Seed Predation (E2749)

Managing your Farm to Increase Weed Seed Predation (E2749)

In Michigan agriculture, herbicide applications in combination with tillage and cultivation are a common approach to reduce weed infestations.

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Introduction

In Michigan agriculture, herbicide applications in combination with tillage and cultivation are a common approach to reduce weed infestations. For example, during the 1998 growing season, more than 2,400 and 700 tons of herbicides were applied in Michigan to control weeds in corn and soybean fields, respectively. Still, yield reduction due to weed competition remains a major concern.

Weed seed predation is a promising way to help farmers reduce weed infestations and decrease herbicide dependence. Seed predators such as birds, rodents, crickets and ground beetles eat or damage weed seeds, reducing weed germination and establishment. At Michigan State University, we have evaluated the ability of invertebrate weed seed predators, particularly ground beetles and crickets, to eat weed seeds. Our work has shown that, though these beneficial organisms can eat large amounts of seeds, common agricultural practices such as harvesting and tillage create a harsh environment for their survival.

Finding viable strategies to conserve weed seed predators in row-crop systems is an essential component in the design of integrated weed management programs. In several studies conducted throughout Michigan crop fields, we have observed that herbaceous strips, fencerows and hedgerows can provide suitable habitats for beneficial insects.

 

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