The primary project focuses on developing weed emergence and growth models that can be used by clients world-wide based on locally-derived weather data and simple soil variables. This work integrates experimentally-generated response functions of weeds to burial, water stress, and temperature with simulated soil water potentials and soil temperatures throughout the upper soil profile (typically 0-10 cm), as well as simulated tillage-induced seed burial depths. (See“ Software” on this web site for free downloadable software.) These biological models are integrated with agronomic and management variables (herbicide types and rates, planting and spraying dates) to develop integrated management systems. Management systems include new methods of physical weed control, such as Propelled Agricultural Grit Management (See more information and video of PAGMan), which uses grit made from waste products or organically-approved fertilizers to abrade weed seedlings in row crops.
Alternative crops, particularly specialized oilseeds, also have been a research focus. This secondary project on alternative crops examines agronomic limitations to productivity of new crops such as calendula, cuphea, and echium. This latter work has involved EMS mutagenesis and subsequent breeding for combinations of important agronomic traits, including seed-retention, seed size, and plant stature. Because most oilseed crops also have bright and showy flowers, which are invariably insect-pollinated, our most recent project examines ecosystem services provided by a diverse array of adapted oilseed crops in terms of food resources for, and health of, pollinating insects, especially honey bees.