Weeding tools have come a long way! Last summer, Eric Gallandt invited me to present the results of my latest “stacked” cultivation trials at the Northeast Mechanical Weed Control Expo. I brought my camera along to document the exciting exhibits by vendors and other researchers. Stacked cultivation featured prominently, as did enhanced accuracy – achieved through improved steering capability or camera-guided tools.
(Above) KULT Kress demonstrated their camera guided sweeps and finger weeders (only one row operating). These weeds were too large for optimal finger weeder performance. In-row weeds are most effectively controlled when less than one inch tall.
(above) The camera guidance system display was brought out from the tractor cab to show participants how it focuses on green plants to determine the location of the crop row.
(above) HAK showcased a new cultivating tractor with sweeps (left), finger weeders (center), and tines for the wheel tracks (right).
(above) Steketee brought their Crumbler Rotors (left), finger weeders (center), and side knives (right).
(above) The cultivating tractor from Tilmor is reminiscent of the Allis Chalmers G, but notice the new crane-winch system for moving tools into place.
(above) Tilmor also demonstrated a walk-behind tractor with a potential “stacked” cultivation setup.
(above) Jen Goff, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, showcased several innovative wheel hoes and hand tools.
(above) Ellen Mallory PhD, and Tom Molloy from UMaine discuss their results testing the potential of the CombCut and inter-row hoeing in small grains.
(above) “Stacking” cultivation tools is not just for vegetable crops, this combination has proved effective in small grains.
(above) Slow-motion-video of camera-guided hoeing in a small grain. This practice is gaining popularity in Europe but is still uncommon in the United States.
(below) The futuristic “Tertill” from Franklin Robotics. This solar-powered weeding robot attacks weeds with a string trimmer on its belly and it senses crop plants based on their height. I can’t believe this is now on the market! Flying cars will be next!
March 9, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Announcing Updates to the Northeastern IPM Best Management Practices for Schools Website
Back in 2013, the Northeast School IPM Working Group (NESIWG) received a Partnership Grant from the Northeastern IPM Center to develop a Best Management Practices (BMP) website.
Reducing pest and pesticide exposure is important for children, just as it is for district staff and visitors. But schools are especially challenging to manage because they include such varied and heavily used settings such as classrooms, cafeterias, laboratories, auditoriums, theaters, playing fields, playgrounds and gardens.
The burden of use on an athletic field. (NYSIPM photo)
With the help of many contributors, the NESIWG both created and collected resources for school IPM. We wanted to help administrators, school boards, parents, teaching and support staff, athletic directors, groundskeepers, kitchen staff and custodians how a designated pest management plan can reduce both pests and the need for pesticides. The website was a success.
By 2018, NESIWG members saw the need to update old links and fill out gaps in the content. Eager to keep the website a useful and comprehensive resource, the working group applied for and received a NEIPM Communications grant. Again using focus groups, the following changes were made:
a reorganization of the pest species list,
additional information on relevant pesticide use regulations in all Northeastern states,
grouping resources by stakeholder roles,
the addition of two new pages: Breakfast in the Classroom and Playgrounds
Additionally, the recent grant included an update of the working group’s homepage, a new ranking of regional school IPM priorities, a current membership list and an index of school IPM contacts in the Northeast.
Front (Outside) of Brochure
Now, with changes soon to be complete, the NESIWG welcomes your visits and assistance in sharing this helpful site. After all, finding and using the website is key!
Using several different cultivation implements at once, or “stacking” tools, can improve weed control effectiveness. From my work at the University of Maine, Eric Gallandt and I showed that certain cultivation tools work synergistically together, particularly those combinations that undercut, then uproot, then bury weeds. Unfortunately crop damage was high in the trial results from Maine. So in New York, I made some adjustments to be gentler on the crop – wider spacing between tools, removed center tines on the row harrow, and tested a new hiller to bury weeds without contacting the crop (Figure 1). And GPS guidance was a big improvement too!
Figure 1. Cultivation implements used in these trials were A) sweeps, B) finger weeders (yellow and row harrow (blue), and C) a disk hiller. For full explanation of implement adjustments and trial methods, see the project report at https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/64539
Figure 2. Results of cultivation trials in snap beans. This was the first cultivation event following planting and tillage. At cultivation, snap beans were 6” tall, while weeds were 0.5” tall in 2018 and 1” tall in 2019.
Figure 3. Results of cultivation trials in beets. First cultivation occurred at either the 2-leaf stage or about one week later at the 4-leaf stage. 2019 beets trials were planted in the spring, whereas 2018 beets were planted late-summer, with lower-growing winter annual weeds present.
Overall, the adjustments made in these trials greatly reduced crop damage while weed control remained high. I was most impressed with the stacked combo of sweeps plus fingers plus disk hillers, which consistently controlled the greatest percentage of weeds. These results also demonstrate that in-row cultivation should not be conducted prior to the 4-leaf stage in beets. For more information on integrated weed management, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. This project was supported by a USDA NIFA CPPM.
February 12, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on The Soybean and Small Grains Congress
On February 5th and 6th, Bryan Brown and Jaime Cummings of the NYSIPM Program presented their latest findings to the farmers, agricultural consultants and agribusiness associates attending the Soybean and Small Grains Congress meetings in Batavia, NY and Waterloo, NY.
Field Crops and Livestock IPM Coordinator Jaime Cummings
This event was sponsored by the Northwest Dairy, livestock and Field Crops Team, an outstanding regional agriculture program from Cornell Cooperative Extension serving a nine-county region in western New York. The team’s specialists work together with Cornell faculty and extension educators statewide to provide service to the farms large and small whether dairy, livestock, hay, corn, wheat or soybean focused. They are part of the Cornell CALS’ Pro-Dairy program outreach.
Caption: NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team counties
On Wednesday, February 5th, the meeting took place in Batavia. Besides NYSIPM staff, presenters included Mike Stanyard (CCE NYNY Team), Dennis Pennington (Small Grains Specialist from Michigan State University), Gary Bergstrom (Cornell University Plant Pathologist), Jodi Putnam (Field Crops Specialist from CCE), Mike Helms (Pesticide Management Education Program, Cornell University), and Dan Wixted, (Pesticide Management Education Program, Cornell University). With such experienced trainers as these, attendees heard valuable information that will serve them well once the 2020 field season begins.
Bryan Brown shared his recent research trial on managing waterhemp in soybeans. Effective Programs for Controlling Waterhemp in Soybeans
Dr. Bryan Brown speaks about his work reducing weeds in soybeans.
Jaime Cummings presented her research survey results on biocontrol use of a parasitoid on the cereal leaf beetle. Cereal Leaf Beetle: History, Biology, Management and Biocontrol
On Thursday, February 6th, the same team of presenters spoke to an audience in Waterloo, NY.
Congratulations Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field CropsTeam. Their educational programs and individual assistance cover a wide area of best management practices and as well as dairy farm business. For dairy farms, a bilingual dairy specialist provides producers with employee training and human resource facilitation in Spanish. Educational and support venues range from on individual farm management team meetings and troubleshooting to multi-day classroom and hands-on training and from ongoing farmer group discussion meetings to thematic day long symposia.
As to the success of this year’s S&SG Congress? Mike Stanyard shared this: I want to thank all of you for making the 2020 S&SG Congresses a success! It was a very well-rounded program and I have received plenty of comments about the quality of the presentations. I know the growers took home some very valuable information.
Mike Stanyard (Ph.D.) CCE, NWNY Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team
Photos: Ken Wise
December 31, 2019
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on NYS IPM’s Best of 2019
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” –Ken Blanchard
Each year, NYS IPM staff are busy blogging about relevant topics. Here’s a recap of some of our more popular 2019 offerings:
ThinkIPM is our catchall blog and a great way to keep a pulse on what’s happening in New York State IPM.
No one wants to find an embedded tick.
We have spent a lot of time in the past year talking about how to prevent tick bites, from dressing in long pants, using repellents, and conducting daily tick checks. But sometimes one gets past you and you discover that new lump behind your knee has legs. There are always question about what to do next, and Help! I found a tick on me! was the most popular 2019 blog post.
Spotted lanternfly distribution map as of November 2019
Spotted lanternfly was also on your mind, and Traveling for the Holidays? provided a checklist for those traveling within the spotted lanternfly quarantine zone. Trust us when we say that you do not want to unintentionally transport Spotted Lanternfly egg masses in New York state.
Other IPM Blogs – Besides ThinkIPM, we have more dedicated blogs, and you don’t need to be a specialist to subscribe to them. Here are some of the more popular posts:
The most popular Biocontrol Bytes offering was a guest post from our collegues in the Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Anna Wallis, Kerik Cox, and Mei-Wah Cho. They discussed moving beyond antibiotics to the use of biopesticides in the post, Battling Fire Blight with Biologicals.
Thursday September 26th was the Planting for Beneficial Habitat Twilight meeting. Attendees learned how habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects show good stewardship of the land. Dr. Dunn explained several methods of establishment, the benefits of hosting pollinators and other beneficial insects, and their impact as biological control.
Dr. Amara Dunn speaks with Cooperative Extension visitors.
Evergreen plantings on the NYSIPM plot, Cornell Agritech Fruit and Vegetable Research Farm
Does adding beneficial habitat reduce pest pressure on Christmas tree plots? We hope to find out.
Despite stormy skies, the Twilight Event was a success
Brian Eshenaur and Amara Dunn address attendees of the Twilight Meeting
Keuka College students in Dr. Bill Brown’s Animal Diversity class compare pairs of insect samples. Dr. Betsy Lamb invited them to hypothesize differences in collected insects at varying locations within the plots, and at different times of the year.
Thank you to all who helped make these teaching events possible!
September 6, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Weeding Now Reduces Weeds Later
Dr. Bryan Brown examines a single WATERHEMP plant capable of producing thousands of seeds.
Summer annual weeds start flowering in early August, so it’s important to control them beforehand to prevent seed production. This is true for commercial growers and for homeowners. One of the most prolific is waterhemp, a bane to growers because it’s also resistant to herbicides. According to our INTEGRATED WEED MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST, DR. BRYAN BROWN, waterhemp is likely resistant to herbicide Groups 2, 5, and 9 in NY.
That’s why Bryan is collaborating with growers and researchers around the state to investigate other controls, including cultivation, cover cropping, and even a device that zaps weeds with electricity. Funding for this work was provided by the Farm Viability Institute.
“Here we’re removing waterhemp that survived some of our herbicide treatments in soybeans. Because this trial is done in a grower’s field and we don’t want it to spread, we’re removing it before it sets seed (up to 500,000).”
While other pigweed species have short hairs on their stems, waterhemp and Palmer amaranth have smooth stems. The best way to distinguish waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is to rip off one of the lower leaves. Another characteristic of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is separate male (pollen producing) and female (seed producing) plants. Herbicide resistance traits can transfer by pollen, which has allowed these weeds to develop resistance faster.
To prevent these weeds from taking hold, growers are also recommended to start weed-free with tillage, followed by a 2-pass program of residual and post-emergence herbicides that utilizes several effective sites of action. Foliar applied herbicides should be used when these weeds are less than four inches tall. Since these weeds emerge over a broader timeframe than most weeds, mid-season residual herbicide applications should be considered, along with increased planting density or tighter row spacing to help close the canopy earlier.
Waterhemp weed showing growth pattern.
If you do find yourself with escapes of these weeds, it makes economic sense to go hand-rogue those weeds out of your fields rather than deal with 200,000 to one million seeds in your soil from each weed. If there are too many to bag up by hand, consider sacrificing that patch of your crop by mowing and tilling the area before the weeds produce seed. Avoid harvesting these areas. Combines are especially good at spreading weed seeds. If you must harvest these areas, know that combines can carry 150 pounds of plant material even you think it’s empty, so check out some of the great online videos on how to clean them out after going through weedy fields.
The weakness of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is the short lifespan of their seeds in the soil. Of those that don’t germinate, very few will survive in the soil for more than four years. So, if you can keep it under control for four years, you won’t have much of it after that. But as one Pennsylvania grower put it, “the cheapest way to control Palmer amaranth is to never get it in the first place.” So, it’s important to make sure that your seed, feed, bedding, and equipment are clean from the start.
Dr. Bryan Brown works with growers, extension educators, industry leaders, and researchers to address knowledge gaps in weed IPM and develop programming to improve adoption of effective weed management practices. His work covers all agricultural crops throughout New York.
Thank you, NY Farm Viability Institute
July 20, 2019
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Revisiting wild parsnip
Wild parsnip sap can cause painful, localized burning and blistering of the skin. – New York State Department of of Environmental Conservation
Wild parsnip going to seed. The sap in this widely spreading invasive plant can cause severe burns.
A few weeks ago we discussed the invasive wild parsnip as a hidden danger for weekend weedwackers. Now it is much more obvious with its bright yellow flowers, but if you are looking to control it now, straight mowing is off the table. Some of the heads are going to seed and mowing will simply distribute those seeds, ensuring a new crop of wild parsnip next year.
Whether you choose to dig out the root, cut the root an inch or two below the soil, or mow, first cut the seed head off with clippers and put it in a plastic bag. The bag can then be left in the sun to rot the seeds before disposal. And don’t forget to wear protective clothing to prevent any sap from reaching exposed skin or eyes.
Use a boot brush to clean mud and seeds off your boots. Remember to check the tread!
This is also the time of year when seeds of this and other invasive species can be accidentally transported by hikers and dog walkers. Avoid brushing against plants. Check shoes, clothing, and gear after leaving an area. Remove any seeds that are found and seal them in a plastic bag. (This can double as a tick check!)
For more information on preventing the spread of invasive species while hiking, biking, camping, and, well, any outdoor play, a great resource is PlayCleanGo. And consider taking their pledge to Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks.
Let’s stay safe out there!
April 22, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Weeding Robot!
Many of us love gardening. But not many of us enjoy weeding. Robots to the rescue!
Franklin Robotics has built a robot to control weeds and they sent us one of their prototypes for initial testing before it hits the market. Their robot, Tertill, moves around the garden with a string-trimmer (a.k.a. weedwacker) that cuts up small weeds while its sensor allows it to move around your larger, planted flowers or vegetables. Its wheels are also designed to dislodge small weeds.
While this robot is designed for small gardens, larger robots are also being developed for farms. As farmers face labor shortages and herbicide-resistant weeds, robotic weeders could help alleviate these challenges. Several companies are taking very different approaches in their designs. One model undercuts weed roots, another punches small weeds into the ground, and a third places a drop of herbicide on the weed’s growing point.
Most of these robots are still in the development stage. In testing out the Tertill, we see that it has great potential, but as you can see in the video, there are some weeds that it misses. We’ll suggest that the designers raise the crop sensors while lowering the weed trimmer so that it controls a wider range of weeds. Hopefully after these tweaks it will be ready for prime time!
Involved in this project are:
Bryan Brown, Integrated Weed Management Specialist, NYSIPM, Cornell University
Kristine Averill, Research Associate, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University
Antonio DiTommaso, Professor and Chair, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University
Scott Morris, Research Technician, Soil and Crop Sciences, Cornell University
March 28, 2019
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Happy National Weed Appreciation Day!
It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ahhh, the weed. Despised by many, almost to the point of violence. Once, while waiting for my older child to get out of preschool, I sat in the lawn and blew dandelion heads to the delight of my infant. I’ve never forgotten the sudden manifestation of a red-faced man screaming at me about terrorizing the neighborhood. (I like to think my son was unaffected.)
The first step in IPM is determining if you have a problem. All those years ago, a large, angry man was a problem, but I contend to this day that the dandelions were not. An unknown author penned that weeds are people’s idea, not nature’s. And many through the years have found inspiration from weeds. While researching this post, I had the option of strictly sticking to quotes about weeds (don’t worry, I didn’t), but I will add a few. There are quotes about their survivability:
You can’t help but admire a plant that has adapted to lawn mowers.
A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. – Doug Larson
A fresh and vigorous weed, always renewed and renewing, it will cut its wondrous way through rubbish and rubble. – William Jay Smith
Quotes about weeding:
Plant and your spouse plants with you; weed and you weed alone. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
And many waxed poetic about their hidden value:
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
When life is not coming up roses, Look to the weeds and find the beauty hidden within them. – F. Young
But beyond their value as a philosophical aid, can weeds be beneficial?
In fact, what weeds you find can tell you something about the soil. Is it wet or dry? Lean or fertile? Compacted? Acidic, alkaline, or neutral? Check out the short overview from the University of Vermont, What Weeds Can Tell You. Then act accordingly.
Often, weeds we find troublesome are plants we once valued. Dandelions, garlic mustard, plantain, and burdock are examples of plants brought over and cultivated by settlers to North America for food and medicine. And there are efforts to regain that value. One doesn’t need to spend too much time on the internet to find many resources on edible weeds. Take a look at this short video, Edible Weeds | From the Ground Up, developed by the University of Wyoming Extension (which includes some precautions you should take if you want to try eating your problems away). The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education recently funded a project looking at bringing edible weeds from the farm to the market.
These trichogramma wasp parasitized European corn borer eggs aren’t going to hatch.
There is research looking at the ecosystem services provided by weeds in agricultural settings. In their project, Integrating Insect, Resistance, and Floral Resource Management in Weed Control Decision-Making, Cornell researchers make the argument that while weeds can compete with crops, they can also benefit the entire system. They use milkweed along a field of corn as a case study. There are aphids that feed on the milkweed and produce honeydew, which benefits beneficial insects such as wasps that lay their eggs in the eggs of insect pests such as European corn borer. And that’s before they discuss the benefit to monarch butterflies.
Early flowering weeds, such as this purple deadnettle, provide an early spring food source for pollinators.
And speaking of butterflies… and bees… and other pollinators, in the write-up of a study looking at the capacity of untreated home lawns to provide pollination opportunities, they reclassified weeds as “spontaneous lawn flowers”. So much friendlier! By the way, they found 63 plant species in those lawns. In a parallel study looking at mowing and pollinators, they found that lazy lawn mowing led to more spontaneous lawn flowers leading to more pollinators. So now I have also given you an excuse to mow less. You’re welcome.