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The U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) has been a leader in weed science research covering topics ranging from the development and use of integrated weed management (IWM) tactics to basic mechanistic studies, including biotic resistance of desirable plant communities and herbicide resistance. ARS weed scientists have worked in agricultural and natural ecosystems, including agronomic and horticultural crops, pastures, forests, wild lands, aquatic habitats, wetlands, and riparian areas. Through strong partnerships with academia, state agencies, private industry, and numerous federal programs, ARS weed scientists have made contributions to discoveries in the newest fields of robotics and genetics, as well as the traditional and fundamental subjects of weed–crop competition and physiology and integration of weed control tactics and practices. Weed science at ARS is often overshadowed by other research topics; thus, few are aware of the long history of ARS weed science and its important contributions. This review is the result of a symposium held at the Weed Science Society of America’s 62nd Annual Meeting in 2022 that included 10 separate presentations in a virtual Weed Science Webinar Series. The overarching themes of management tactics (IWM, biological control, and automation), basic mechanisms (competition, invasive plant genetics, and herbicide resistance), and ecosystem impacts (invasive plant spread, climate change, conservation, and restoration) represent core ARS weed science research that is dynamic and efficacious and has been a significant component of the agency’s national and international efforts. This review highlights current studies and future directions that exemplify the science and collaborative relationships both within and outside ARS. Given the constraints of weeds and invasive plants on all aspects of food, feed, and fiber systems, there is an acknowledged need to face new challenges, including agriculture and natural resources sustainability, economic resilience and reliability, and societal health and well-being.
Dietary patterns (DP) rich in plant foods are associated with improved health and reduced non-communicable disease risk. In October 2021, the Nutrition Society hosted a member-led conference, held online over 2 half days, exploring the latest research findings examining plant-rich DP and health. The aim of the present paper is to summarise the content of the conference and synopses of the individual speaker presentations are included. Topics included epidemiological analysis of plant-rich DP and health outcomes, the effects of dietary interventions which have increased fruit and vegetable (FV) intake on a range of health outcomes, how adherence to plant-rich DP is assessed, the use of biomarkers to assess FV intake and a consideration of how modifying behaviour towards increased FV intake could impact environmental outcomes, planetary health and food systems. In conclusion, although there are still considerable uncertainties which require further research, which were considered as part of the conference and are summarised in this review, adopting a plant-rich DP at a population level could have a considerable impact on diet and health outcomes, as well as planetary health.
Weed management is often difficult and expensive in organic production systems. Clove oil is an essential oil that functions as a contact herbicide and may provide an additional weed management tool for use on organic farms. Burning nettle, purslane, and rye responses to 5, 10, 20, 40, and 80% v/v clove oil mixture applied in spray volumes of 281 and 468 L/ha were examined. Log-logistic curves were fitted to the nettle and purslane data to determine the herbicide dose required to reduce plant dry weight 50% (GR50) and 90% (GR90). A three-parameter Gaussian curve was fitted to the rye data. The GR50 and GR90 were largely unaffected by spray volume. Nettle dry weight was reduced by 90% with 12 to 61 L clove oil/ha, whereas 21 to 38 L clove oil/ha were required to reduce purslane biomass to the same level. Rye was not effectively controlled by clove oil. Clove oil controls broadleaf weeds at high concentrations, but its cost makes broadcast applications prohibitive, even in high-value vegetable production systems.
Substantial weed growth often occurs in legume-cereal cover-crop mixes commonly grown on organic vegetable farms. A 2-yr study at the USDA-ARS in Salinas, CA, was conducted to test the effect of zero, one, and two passes with a rotary hoe on weed control in a mixed cover crop of 10% rye, 15% common vetch, 15% purple vetch, 25% peas, and 35% bell bean. Rotary hoeing occurred 14–15 days after planting (DAP) in the one-pass treatment, and 14 and 28 DAP in the two-pass treatment. Rotary hoeing did not affect total cover-crop density or biomass in either year, but reduced rye density and biomass in year 2. One pass reduced total weed density by 69% in year 1 and 49% in year 2. A second pass did not affect weed density in year 1 but reduced weed density an additional 33% in year 2. One pass decreased weed biomass in year 1, whereas two passes were required to reduce weed biomass in year 2. Rotary hoeing reduced seed shed by chickweed and shepherd's-purse seeds, the two predominant weed species, by 80 to 95% in both years. Rotary hoe efficacy depended on weather conditions directly before and after cultivation. The decision to repeat rotary hoeing should be based upon field scouting and weather conditions following the initial pass with the rotary hoe.
Winter cover crops are increasingly common on organic and conventional vegetable farms on the central coast of California between periods of intensive vegetable production. A 2-yr study was conducted in Salinas, California, to quantify (1) cover crop and weed biomass production during cover cropping, (2) early-season canopy development of cover crops, (3) weed seed production by burning nettle during cover cropping, and (4) weed emergence following cover crop incorporation. The cover crops included oats, a mustard mix, and a legume/oats mix that were planted in October and soil-incorporated in February. Weed and cover crop densities, early-season cover crop canopy development, above-ground weed and cover crop biomass production, seed production by the burning nettle, and postincorporation weed emergence was evaluated. Mustard produced more early-season biomass than oats and the legume/oats mix. There were no differences in above ground biomass production by the cover crops at the end of their growth period. Suppression of weed biomass and seed production of burning nettle was greatest in mustard, and least in oats and the legume/oats mix. The weed suppressive ability of each cover crop was affected by early-season canopy development and was highly correlated with cover crop plant density. Weed emergence following cover crop incorporation was in order of legume/oats mix > oats > mustard in yr 1, but was not different in yr 2. This study provides initial information on cover crop effects on weed management in irrigated and tilled vegetable production systems in the central coast of California. The results suggest that the legume/oats mix could exacerbate weed problems in subsequent vegetable crops.
Weed control in organic vegetable production systems is challenging and accounts for a large portion of production costs. Six methods to prepare a stale seedbed were compared on certified and transitional organic land in Salinas, CA, in 2004. Weed control operations occurred on raised beds 2 to 3 d before planting baby spinach or a simulated vegetable planting. A flamer and an herbicide application of 10% v/v of a clove oil mixture (45% v/v clove oil) at 280 L/ha (iteration 1) or 15% v/v of a clove oil mixture (45% clove oil) at 467 L/ha (iterations 2 and 3) were used to control weeds without disturbing the soil. Top knives on a sled, a rolling cultivator, and a rotary hoe were used to control weeds while tilling the bed top. A bed shaper–rototiller combination was also used, which tilled the entire bed. Broadleaf weed control was 36% with clove oil, 63% with the rotary hoe, and significantly higher (87 to 100% control) with the remaining treatments in iteration 1. Broadleaf weed control was consistently lower (72 to 86% control) with the flamer than all other treatments (95 to 100% control) in iterations 2 and 3. The difference between sites can probably be attributed to differences in weed size. The flamer and the clove oil herbicide had the lowest number of weeds emerging with the crop following stale seedbed formation. The most expensive technique was clove oil at $1,372/ha. The estimated cost of forming the stale seedbed with the remaining weed management tools ranged from $10 to $43/ha.
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