Minnesota’s help sought in herbicide resistance survey

Waterhemp in a Jackson County field.
Waterhemp in a Jackson County field.

Courtesy of the University of Minnesota Extension

A multi-state team of university researchers needs help from Minnesota farmers to better understand the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds.

Surveys were sent Nov. 20 to recipients selected for diversity of farm size, crops grown and geographic location. About 10,000 surveys will be distributed nationwide.

Researchers aim to gain deeper insights into herbicidal resistance in corn, soybean, sugarbeets and cotton — its causes, consequences and strategies used to cope with it.

“Farmers are the front lines of herbicide resistance. The information they can provide will be essential to help build an effective response to the growing problem of herbicide-resistant weeds,” said University of Minnesota Extension agronomist Jeff Gunsolus, who represents Minnesota on the research team, along with Terry Hurley, University of Minnesota professor of applied economics. “The survey will help the research team better understand the human dimensions of herbicide resistance as well as how these weeds are spreading.”

While herbicide resistance has existed for decades, the number of weed species resistant to glyphosate and other herbicides has risen dramatically in recent years. As a result, more time and money is spent on weed control; farmers face the likelihood of lower yields and profits unless changes in their weed management are implemented.

In addition, some conservation gains made with reduced or no tillage systems may be reversed by herbicide-resistant weeds.
“The survey will take between 30 and 45 minutes to complete and individual farmers responses will remain confidential. This is a critical effort and we believe the survey will be part of an effort that benefits farmers, both here in Minnesota and across the nation, for years to come,” Hurley said.

The email will include instructions on completing the survey on paper for those who wish to do so.

The research is supported by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The team of weed scientists, economists and sociologists is led by Mike Owen, associate chair of the agronomy department and Extension specialist at Iowa State University. In addition to Gunsolus and Hurley, scientists on the team represent Michigan State University, Portland State University, North Carolina State University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Arizona and Mississippi State University.