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No matter where I go, whenever a conversation strikes up between someone and myself and they ask what my occupation is and I say that I am a weed scientist, I get the same answer: "I surely could use your help!" I have found that whether I am in California, Alaska, Alabama, Texas, Pennsylvania, or overseas, everyone has an interest in controlling weeds. But I've often wondered, especially with all of the media interest in GMO's and environmental stewardship with pesticides, does the general public really know the impact that weeds have on everyday life for not only our food and fiber production, but also our water resources, recreation, schools, and public areas? Most of the people that I encounter think of their lawns when they have a general question after finding out my occupation but weeds and their impact reach much farther than landscaping and making yards more beautiful. This article will detail the impact that weeds have on the different aspects of world in which we live and why weed management is so important not only aesthetically and for better yields but also economically to growers and the general public.
What is the impact of weeds?
Economic Impact of Weeds
In a study conducted at Kansas State University from 2007-2013, researchers studies the impact that leaving weeds uncontrolled would have in Canada and the U.S. given the improved genetics and fertility. They concluded that on an annual basis that the potential loss in value for corn is $27 billion and for soybeans is $16 billion based on their data. Overall average %% yield loss with no weed control in corn is 52% and soybean is 49.5%.
It should be noted that crop yield losses caused by weeds (about 32%) are higher than those caused by either pests (18%) or pathogens (15%) (Oerke & Dehne, 2004)
Please see the table for more information.
Joyce A. Tredaway
Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science
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