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Title:Weed management practice selection among Midwest U.S. organic growers
Author(s):Dedecker, James
Advisor(s):Masiunas, John B.
Department / Program:Crop Sciences
Discipline:Crop Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):organic agriculture
weed management
integrated pest management
integrated weed management
technology adoption
farmer decision-making
Abstract:Weeds are the most costly of all agricultural pests, reducing crop yields, quality and harvestability while simultaneously increasing management expenses. Restriction of synthetic herbicide use in organic agricultural systems increases the complexity of weed management, leading organic farmers to cite weed management as the greatest barrier to organic production. Integrated Weed Management (IWM) systems have been developed to address the ecological implications of weeds and weed management in cropping systems, but adoption is minimal. Organic agriculture may be the most promising context for application of IWM due to philosophical similarities between these two approaches to the “ecologization” of agriculture. However, adoption of IWM on organic farms is poorly understood due to limited data on weed management practices employed, the lack of any agreed-upon IWM metric, and insufficient consideration given to the unique farming contexts within which weed management decisions are made. Therefore, this study aimed to facilitate more successful weed management on organic farms by (i) characterizing organic weed management systems; (ii) identifying motivations for, and barriers to, selection of weed management practices; and (iii) generating guiding principles for effective targeting of weed management outreach. To this end, we used a survey of Midwestern organic growers and nine on-farm interviews to determine how specified psychosocial, demographic and farm structure factors influence selection of weed management practices. Cluster analysis of the data identified three disparate, yet scaled, approaches to organic weed management. Clusters were distinguished by philosophical perspective regarding weeds and the number of weed management practices used. Categorization of individual farms within the identified approaches was influenced by what a farm produces as well as farmer education, years farming and information seeking behavior. Farmer interviews largely supported findings of the survey. The proposed model allows weed management educators to target outreach for enhanced compatibility of farming contexts and weed management technologies.
Issue Date:2012-05-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 James Dedecker
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-05-22
Date Deposited:2012-05

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