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Research Project: New Weed Management Tools from Natural Product-Based Discoveries

Location: Natural Products Utilization Research

Title: Weed management in 2050: Perspective on the future of weed science

Author
item Westwood, James - VIRGINIA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTION & STATE UNIVERSITY
item Charudattan, R - UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
item Duke, Stephen
item Finnimore, Steven - UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
item Marrone, Pam - MARRONE BIO INNOVATIONS
item Slaughter, David - UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
item Swanton, Clarence - UNIVERSITY OF GUELPH
item Zollinger, Richard - NORTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Weed Science
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2017
Publication Date: 5/21/2018
Citation: Westwood, J.H., Charudattan, R., Duke, S.O., Finnimore, S.A., Marrone, P., Slaughter, D.C., Swanton, C., Zollinger, R. 2018. Weed management in 2050: Perspective on the future of weed science. Weed Science. 66:275-285. https://doi.org/10.1017/wsc.2017.78.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/wsc.2017.78

Interpretive Summary: The discipline of weed science is at a critical juncture. Decades of efficient chemical weed control has led to a rise in the number of herbicide resistant weed populations, with few new herbicides and increasing farm labor scarcity available to counter this trend. At the same time, world population swells, necessitating increased food production to feed and anticipated 9 billion people by the year 2050. Here we consider these challenges and the emerging trends in technology and innovation that offer hope of providing sustainable weed control into the future. The emergence of natural product leads in discovery of new herbicides and biopesticides suggests that new modes of action can be discovered, while genetic engineering provides additional options for manipulating herbicide selectivity and entirely novel approaches. Advances in understanding plant pathogen interactions will contribute to developing new biological control agents, and insights into plant-plant interactions suggest that crops can be improved by manipulating their response to competition. Revolutions in computing power and automation have led to a nascent industry built on using machine vision and GPS information to distinguish weeds from crops and deliver precision control. These technologies open multiple possibilities for efficient weed management, whether through chemical or mechanical mechanisms. Information is also needed by growers to make good decisions, and will be delivered with unprecedented efficiency and specificity, potentially revolutionizing aspects of extension work. We consider that meeting the weed control needs of agriculture by 2050 and beyond is possible, but requires commitment by funding agencies, researchers, and students to seize new technologies and work/train to be able to translate their promise into viable solutions.

Technical Abstract: The discipline of weed science is at a critical juncture. Decades of efficient chemical weed control has led to a rise in the number of herbicide resistant weed populations, with few new herbicides and increasing farm labor scarcity available to counter this trend. At the same time, world population swells, necessitating increased food production to feed and anticipated 9 billion people by the year 2050. Here we consider these challenges and the emerging trends in technology and innovation that offer hope of providing sustainable weed control into the future. The emergence of natural product leads in discovery of new herbicides and biopesticides suggests that new modes of action can be discovered, while genetic engineering provides additional options for manipulating herbicide selectivity and entirely novel approaches. Advances in understanding plant pathogen interactions will contribute to developing new biological control agents, and insights into plant-plant interactions suggest that crops can be improved by manipulating their response to competition. Revolutions in computing power and automation have led to a nascent industry built on using machine vision and GPS information to distinguish weeds from crops and deliver precision control. These technologies open multiple possibilities for efficient weed management, whether through chemical or mechanical mechanisms. Information is also needed by growers to make good decisions, and will be delivered with unprecedented efficiency and specificity, potentially revolutionizing aspects of extension work. We consider that meeting the weed control needs of agriculture by 2050 and beyond is possible, but requires commitment by funding agencies, researchers, and students to seize new technologies and work/train to be able to translate their promise into viable solutions.