Weed management decisions are complicated by the multi-species nature of the weed population in most fields and by the large number of alternative treatments which are available. The situation in each field is unique and a decision maker must consider many factors in order to determine the best course of action in any field.
Computerized decision support systems (DSS) have been developed which offer growers the opportunity to make rapid, real-time decisions regarding weed management practices, particularly with regard to suppression strategies. Two such systems, HADSS, developed at North Carolina State University, and WeedSOFT®, developed at the University of Nebraska, have been field-tested and validated and are ready for wide scale implementation.
Successful implementation of a DSS approach to weed management has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of herbicides applied to field crops, as well as to improve overall weed management and reduce losses due to weeds.
Implementation of this weed management approach across a large area will not be easy. Despite the demonstrated successes of HADSS and WeedSOFT®, it is unlikely that these models will be widely adopted without a concerted effort which involves program developers, weed scientists, extension service personnel, private consultants, pest management cooperatives, pesticide dealers and crop producers.
Since weed problems and weed management strategies differ from state-to-state, it will be necessary to develop programs which are customized to the situation in each state.
A regional implementation effort of the WeedSOFT® program has recently been funded by CSREES-USDA (IPM Implementation in a Corn/Soybean/Cotton/Wheat System Project 98-COOP-2-6948). One of the objectives of this project is to develop a computerized decision aid for post-emergence weed control in cotton, soybeans, corn and wheat. In addition, it also provides funding for wide-scale on-farm field validation and demonstration trials in each participating state and develop mechanisms for model distribution, model updating, and training of scouts and decision makers so that project becomes self-sustaining.
Three additional years of funding from the USDA RAMP program (award #2001-51101-11100)was obtained in October 2001. This project will move WeedSOFT® from the experimental verification stage to widespread implementation of the DSS in the North Central states. North Central states participating in the WeedSOFT® regionalization project are: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. In addition to continuing maintenance, upgrades, and customer support, we will endeavor to develop a spatial component for WeedSOFT® that will enhance its usefulness as a site-specific weed management tool. This component will utilize existing SSURGO soil data and digital imagery to tailor a weed management solution specific for your field. This will also allow the potential for field maps of weed populations to enhance your weed management decisions now and in the future.