As weeds develop resistance to commonly used herbicides, farmers seek new ways to rid their fields of those hard-to-kill weeds.
Despite cold and wind, Kansas State Research and Extension agent Rickey Roberts and agronomist Doug Shoup laid out a control plot Thursday in a field south of Hillsboro.
Shoup received a grant to research the effects of different combinations of herbicides glyphosate-resistant marestail, but he needed a site to perform the research. Glyphosate is better known by its trade name Roundup — the most commonly used herbicide in the world, Shoup said.
Roberts knew resistant marestail was a problem in parts of Marion County, so he made arrangements with a farmer who had resistant marestail in a field to use that field for research.
They will try 11 different herbicide treatments, each at two different times in the weeds’ growth. If the research proves fruitful, farmers throughout the state will benefit, Roberts said.
“I think field research is critical,” he said.
Researchers at Kansas State University can test different treatments in laboratories and greenhouses, but some research needs to be done in real fields, Roberts said.
“We don’t farm in greenhouses,” he said.
Farmers need to find ways to improve their productivity, Roberts said, and field research is one way to get the knowledge necessary to do that.
“From my standpoint, that’s a part of my job I like,” Roberts said.
Field research presents some challenges not found in a greenhouse — most notably weather. If Roberts and Shoup spray the test plot, but an unexpected storm washes away all the chemicals, a lot of effort could be lost.
If that were to happen, the researchers would try again next year.
“We want to know, does this work, or did it not work,” Roberts said.