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Herbicide-Resistant Weed Researchers Turning to Farmers

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A team researching herbicide-resistant weeds is turning to farmers for answers.

A federal grant has brought weed scientists, sociologists and behavioral economists from universities including Minnesota, Iowa State and Michigan State together in hopes of better understanding how growers manage resistance on their farm.

Minnesota weed scientist Jeff Gunsolus says the team went to work more than two years ago on what he calls a complex problem.

“What we’re really trying to get at here, and I think where our biggest learning curve is: the human or sociological aspects of herbicide resistance.”

Gunsolus tells Brownfield he’s noticed a passive attitude among some farmers when talking about resistant weeds.

“An attitude of ‘there will be new herbicides along, so lets not worry too much about this issue because there will be something new we can use.’ Which hasn’t turned out to be the case. There’s another issue of: ‘if I do something and my neighbor doesn’t, what difference does that make?”

The research team created a confidential survey that was sent to 9,000 farmers in 29 states last week.

Gunsolus says the data will provide a broad look at how farmers are dealing with herbicide-resistant weeds and possibly new ways to approach the issue going forward.

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