Why is this research important for Alberta ag?
Herbicide-resistant (HR) weeds are a persistent problem for Alberta producers. Canada has the third highest number of herbicide-resistant (HR) weed biotypes in the world, of which 38% (29/76) have been recorded in Alberta. HR weeds can spread rapidly, contributing to crop reductions or in some instances crop failure on farm operations.
Additionally, completing field surveys for HR weeds has historically been labour-intensive time-sensitive and logistically cumbersome for Alberta producers. This project will enable Alberta growers to address how they manage weeds on particular fields in-season. Currently, only one such (in-season) diagnostic test for HR is offered in western Canada.
What benefits can producers expect from this research?
Outcomes of this research project will help oilseed, cereals and pulse producers to better understand und how HR weeds spread and are distributed across the prairies. With the development of a rapid-in season diagnostic test for HR weeds, researchers will be able to drastically shorten the time it takes to screen weed samples, reducing the diagnostic time from 4-5 months down to 1-2 weeks from sample collection date. The development of this research solution will provide producers with a greater opportunity to make in-season HR weed management decisions for their farming operation.
The development of this rapid in-season test have immediate financial, environmental, and health benefits by increasing the likelihood that subsequent (and rescue) herbicide treatments will be effective rather than uninformed herbicide application and unnecessary herbicide failure. This will result in a reduced number of unnecessary herbicide applications, aiding in environmental stewardship. Additionally, growers that have the ability to adjust their weed management strategies in-season will be able to apply effective strategies quickly (e.g. before weed flowering), thus minimizing weed seedbank sizes and resulting in less effort necessary to control HR weeds in subsequent seasons.
How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?
This project aims to develop new knowledge which will be disseminated through a variety of platforms to aid grower uptake and adoption. Dr. Geddes has a rich history of outreach and extension efforts and he often works directly with growers on applied research projects. Dr LaForest, another key researcher on this project, has initiated and performed genetic test research, development and implementation for herbicide resistant weeds in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes. An agreement has also been made for these genetics tests to be used commercially by private companies.
The collective and broad experience of these this research team will provide a comprehensive understanding of herbicide resistance, and focus on communication of this understanding to growers and agronomists.