How to combat herbicide resistance: Use more herbicide

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A while ago, I wrote a post about the evolution of herbicide resistant weeds. I suggested there exists a “resistance management paradox.” In a nutshell, to reduce the problem of herbicide resistant weeds, one important strategy may be to actually use more herbicide.

A new study published earlier this year in the journal Pest Management Science lends additional evidence for the resistance management paradox. The goal of this study was to “identify risk factors associated with resistance.”

At least one of the study’s results has surprised some weed scientists. Apparently, rotating herbicides from year to year increased the likelihood of finding herbicide resistant weeds.

There are a few important takeaways from the study. First, rotation of herbicide modes of action isn’t enough to prevent herbicide resistance. Rotating herbicides is only effective if it is also accompanied by other weed control measures.

In my previous post on the resistance paradox, I wrote: “If we consider herbicide-resistant weeds to be an environmental problem that must be addressed, one strategy we must seriously contemplate is increasing herbicide use.”

I still believe that. Unless we plan on completely removing herbicides from agriculture (laudable, but unrealistic in the short-term), we need to protect the utility of the herbicides we have. The most practical way to maintain the value of current herbicides is to mix them with other effective herbicides. This will almost certainly increase the total amount of herbicides we use.

But “spray more herbicides” is not something anyone wants to hear. Eventually, we must stop looking to herbicides as the solution to a problem created by herbicides and place more emphasis on non-chemical weed management practices.

Read full, original post: Want to reduce herbicide resistance? Spray more herbicides!