Weed Management Technology Survey Seeking Grower Feedback
A collaborative project involving several universities across the country aims to foster the development of herbicide-free weed management technologies and approaches. As part of the project, industry members are invited to complete an online questionnaire. Assistant professor of plant weed science at Clemson University, Dr Matthew Cutulle said the survey asks a variety of questions aimed at identifying general grower interest.
“In terms of environmental factors, it’s going to ask for soil type, soil moisture, size of production. But also what specific types of autonomous weeding are they interested in? Is it a precision spray? Evaluation of new actuators such as electrocution or cryogenics? Are they ready to share the costs? said Cutulle. “It’s just a matter of assessing the demographics and grower interest and trying to figure out what we can do to work with the industry and try to increase the adoption of non-herbicide techniques in the crops of cabbage and leafy greens.”
The survey is part of a USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative planning grant. The information gathered through the questionnaire will be used to develop a USDA multi-regional grant proposal. Cutulle explained that the data obtained from the survey will help direct research efforts towards a viable weed management technology that is of most interest to farmers. The project also seeks to identify environmental, physical and economic barriers to adoption. Various staff from different disciplines are involved in the project, with the aim of gaining a comprehensive understanding of the industry situation and what might be needed moving forward.
“Most of us didn’t have too much experience with robotic weed control, so we contacted Steve Fennemore to see if he would participate in this planning grant,” Cutulle noted. “Most of us are weed specialists, but we have engineers and we’re starting to have economists on the team and that’s where this survey is really going to help understand what rates interest in growers for specific technologies related to autonomous weed control.”