Are herbicides a once in a century method of weed control?

Adam S. Davis, George B Frisvold

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

The efficacy of any pesticide is an exhaustible resource that can be depleted over time. For decades, the dominant paradigm – that weed mobility is low relative to insect pests and pathogens, that there is an ample stream of new weed control technologies in the commercial pipeline, and that technology suppliers have sufficient economic incentives and market power to delay resistance – supported a laissez faire approach to herbicide resistance management. Earlier market data bolstered the belief that private incentives and voluntary actions were sufficient to manage resistance. Yet, there has been a steady growth in resistant weeds, while no new commercial herbicide modes of action (MOAs) have been discovered in 30 years. Industry has introduced new herbicide tolerant crops to increase the applicability of older MOAs. Yet, many weed species are already resistant to these compounds. Recent trends suggest a paradigm shift whereby herbicide resistance may impose greater costs to farmers, the environment, and taxpayers than earlier believed. In developed countries, herbicides have been the dominant method of weed control for half a century. Over the next half-century, will widespread resistance to multiple MOAs render herbicides obsolete for many major cropping systems? We suggest it would be prudent to consider the implications of such a low-probability, but high-cost development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2209-2220
Number of pages12
JournalPest Management Science
Volume73
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

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Keywords

  • common pool resource
  • exhaustible resources
  • herbicide-tolerant crops
  • integrated pest management
  • pesticide resistance
  • user cost

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science

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