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New Book Helps Farmers Outsmart Their Weeds

The guide identifies the best tactics and timing for how to outsmart 63 particularly pernicious weed species, while reducing labor and ensuring weed competition doesn’t reduce yields.

Cornell and USDA scientists have produced the definitive guide to understanding agricultural weeds and how to manage them efficiently, effectively and ecologically. The 416-page book, “Manage Weeds on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies,” was published by the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program.

“It’s an amazing resource, exactly the kind of publication growers are looking for,” said Chris Smart, director of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “It is both thorough and user-friendly. And who isn’t looking for better strategies to control weeds on their farm?”

The lead author, Charles “Chuck” Mohler, Ph.D. ’79, was a senior research associate in SIPS’ Soil and Crop Sciences Section, who died unexpectedly April 1, 2021. He worked closely with co-author Antonio DiTommaso, the section’s chair and head of Cornell’s Weed Ecology and Management Lab. Retired USDA-ARS weed scientist John Teasdale helped complete the volume.

“Chuck was a brilliant scientist and a key weed science innovator who brought ecological knowledge, scientific rigor and elegant experimental design to weed studies,” said DiTommaso. “But his true talent was his ability to translate this often highly technical research into practical and useful information and advice for growers.”

Based on that strong research foundation, the guide identifies the best tactics and timing for how to outsmart 63 particularly pernicious weed species, while reducing labor and ensuring weed competition doesn’t reduce yields. As new scientific findings on these species become available, DiTommaso will provide updates on his website.

“This book has the best information on weed management that is available today,” said pioneering organic farmer Klaas Martens of Lakeview Organic Grain in Penn Yan, New York. “Our understanding of weed control is still growing rapidly, and this book will certainly become an invaluable tool for every farmer who wants to control their weeds sustainably.”Manage Weeds on Your Farm” is available as a free download from the SARE website. The print version will be available in February 2022.

Craig Cramer

Craig Cramer is a communications specialist in the School of Integrative Plant Science.