Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Urbana, Illinois » Global Change and Photosynthesis Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #328560

Research Project: Understanding and Responding to Multiple-Herbicide Resistance in Weeds

Location: Global Change and Photosynthesis Research

Title: Transdisciplinary weed research: new leverage on challenging weed problems?

Author
item Jordan, Nicholas - University Of Minnesota
item Schut, Mark - Wageningen University
item Graham, Sonia - University Of New South Wales
item Barney, Jacob - Virginia Polytechnic Institution & State University
item Childs, Dylan - University Of Sheffield
item Christensen, Svend - University Of Copenhagen
item Cousens, Roger - University Of Melbourne
item Davis, Adam
item Eisenberg, Hanan - Agricultural Research Organization Of Israel
item Ervin, David - Portland State University
item Mirsky, Steven

Submitted to: Weed Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/24/2016
Publication Date: 7/24/2016
Citation: Jordan, N.R., Schut, M., Graham, S., Barney, J., Childs, D., Christensen, S., Cousens, R., Davis, A.S., Eisenberg, H., Ervin, D., Mirsky, S.B. 2016. Transdisciplinary weed research: new leverage on challenging weed problems? Weed Research. 56:345-358.

Interpretive Summary: Many of the most challenging weed problems facing managers have multiple dimensions, including agronomic, environmental, economic and social. Here, we present a new approach to more effective management of challenging weed problems: transdisciplinary Weed Research (TWR). We define TWR as an integrated process of inquiry and action that addresses complex weed problems in the context of broader efforts to improve economic, environmental and social aspects of ecosystem sustainability. The fundamental rationale for TWR is that many challenging weed problems (e.g., herbicide resistance, or extensive plant invasions in natural areas) are better addressed systemically, as a part of broad-based efforts to advance ecosystem sustainability, rather than as isolated problems. Addressing challenging weed problems systemically can offer important new leverage on such problems, by creating new opportunities to manage their root causes, and by improving complementarity between weed management and other activities. TWR is not a replacement for ongoing research on weeds and their management. Rather, this systemic approach has potential to powerfully leverage current weed research.

Technical Abstract: Transdisciplinary Weed Research (TWR) is a promising path to more effective management of challenging weed problems. We define TWR as an integrated process of inquiry and action that addresses complex weed problems in the context of broader efforts to improve economic, environmental and social aspects of ecosystem sustainability. TWR seeks to integrate scholarly and practical knowledge across many stakeholder groups (e.g., scientists from different disciplines, private sector, farmers, extension officers) and levels (e.g., local, regional, landscape). Furthermore, TWR features democratic and iterative processes of decision-making and collective action that aim to align the interests, viewpoints, and agendas of a wide range of stakeholders. The fundamental rationale for TWR is that many challenging weed problems (e.g., herbicide resistance, or extensive plant invasions in natural areas) are better addressed systemically, as a part of broad-based efforts to advance ecosystem sustainability, rather than as isolated problems. Addressing challenging weed problems systemically can offer important new leverage on such problems, by creating new opportunities to manage their root causes, and by improving complementarity between weed management and other activities. While promising, this approach is complicated by the multi-dimensional, multi-level, diversely-defined, and unpredictable nature of ecosystem sustainability. To make progress in the face of those complications, certain methods of transdisciplinary research have high potential. We outline these methods, and illustrate how they might be used by weed researchers via several prospective examples and a retrospective case study. Importantly, these methods are not a replacement for ongoing research on weeds and their management. Rather, these methods have potential to powerfully leverage current weed research.