Farm Progress

Weed resistance and hammers?

In their first-ever Twitter chat and podcast, two University of Illinois weed scientists talk about the difference between using a lot of little hammers or one big one — and what that has to do with weed resistance.

February 2, 2017

“Think differently. Behave differently. Diversify however you can. Not every practice fits on every acre.” That was the message from University of Illinois weed scientists Aaron Hager and Patrick Tranel when they discussed overcoming herbicide resistance during a recent Twitter chat.

#AskACES Twitter chats have been putting researchers from the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences in the hot seat for a little more than a year now, challenging them to formulate pithy answers to questions asked live by the public during the hourlong chat.

It was an eye-opening experience for Tranel and Hager. “This morning, I told my son to check out ‘pound-sign AskACES’ during the lunch hour. He said, ‘Dad, that’s a hashtag,’” Tranel said.

The concept may have been new to the pair, but they clearly enjoyed the 140-character challenge. Hager jokingly answered many questions with “yup” or “nope” before being coaxed to provide more detail.

But the pair got a chance to expand on their answers during a podcast recorded immediately following the Twitter chat. Hager and Tranel, who represent U of I Extension and academic research staff, respectively, provided both the scientific context and some practical guidance for the problem of herbicide resistance during the 15-minute interview. (Listen to the podcast below.)

The discussion ranged from economics to the evolution of herbicide resistance to strategies for farmers to combat the problem in the field.

Bottom line?

“We really have to rethink the idea of simply controlling weeds and give more consideration to how we better manage these populations,” Hager said. “There’s a lot of things that we can do, but one-size-fits-all across the entire state or Midwest? Certainly not. Using a lot of little hammers in the long run is going to be much more sustainable than any one big hammer.” 

That’s 354 characters, in case you’re counting.

Source: University of Illinois

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