New York State IPM Program

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #4 In the Weeds and For the Birds

In the Weeds

Herbicide resistant weeds. Got ‘em? Worried about ‘em? There are some bad ones out there. Some of the baddest in New York are horseweed, waterhemp, and Palmer amaranth. A result of repeated exposure to the same chemical sprays, these plants have given us all a lesson on the power of selection pressure. The crisis brought about by these super-tough weeds motivated NYSIPM to hire an integrated weed management specialist to help growers find a diverse blend of solutions. So what can be done? Instead of relying on herbicides alone, use the ‘many little hammers’ approach: attack weeds with a variety of tactics such as stacked cultivation—a mechanical method that undercuts, uproots, and then buries weeds. Because precision is key in stacked cultivation, GPS and camera guidance help keep tools in line. That’s the difference between destroying your weeds or your crop. What’s next? We’re providing input on the design of robots able to distinguish between the weeds and the crop—aka autonomous weed control. And we’re helping test an electric WeedZapper that has already demonstrated its effectiveness against horseweed. By integrating the latest technology with the oldest, IPM offers growers the many little hammers they need to create a resilient, robust weed management system for their farm.

Bryan Brown examines a waterhemp plant found in this soybean field.

(Above) Will waterhemp win? Facing a 56% decreased yield in this waterhemp-infested soybean field, NYSIPM’s Integrated Weed Management Specialist, Bryan Brown, leads a project funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute. This herbicide-resistant weed can grow an inch a day, and is an impressive seed producer. Through diversified approaches, the project has provided complete control of waterhemp in some trial sites, prompting 94% of attendees at field events to say they’ll follow the lead of this project and modify their tactics for weed control.

Anthraquinones are for the Birds

What do crows, ravens, blackbirds, starlings, grackles, Canada geese, gulls, and wild turkeys all have in common? They’re recurring pests of corn on New York farms, pulling seedlings out of the soil as soon as they emerge. Stony soils, and shallow and no-till plantings are most at risk.What’s a grower to do? Traditionally they lived with the losses, or replanted if there was time. One New York farmer was ready to quit until trying Avipel Shield, the biopesticide seed treatment containing anthraquinone, an extract found in rhubarb and many other plants. Apparently, birds don’t like it. So after a few nibbles of treated seed, they move on and look elsewhere for food. NYSIPM set out to test whether anthraquinone worked in fields that suffer major bird damage. Along with extension specialists in eight counties, we conducted trials on treated and untreated seeds in fields that typically suffer heavy loss to birds. Three years of data confirmed Avipel leaves a bad taste in birds’ mouths. Further trials will help farmers know whether treated seed is needed everywhere every year, or if random use can deter feeding. Meanwhile, these tasty results have been a hot topic at field meetings, crop congresses, and certified crop advisor trainings throughout the state.

Photo shows a red-wing blackbird in field of newly sprouted corn plants.

(Above) Fully fledged. Field Crops & Livestock IPM Extension Educator Ken Wise believes this project’s secondary success was its considerable collaboration. Funding came from three different sources over the three-year period—NYSIPM, NYS Corn Growers Association, and the NYS Farm Viability Institute. Just as important was the partnership among 11 farmers, nine extension educators, and one faculty member

Author: Debra E. Marvin

Community IPM Program Assistant for Schools, Daycare and Horticulture. New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, 630 W. North Street, Geneva, NY 14456 Email: dem35@cornell.edu

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