Integrated Weed Management (IWM) typically involves complex risk management decisions. It comprises preventive and control measures that require decisions on crop choice and sequence, cover cropping, fertilisation, cultivation type and frequency. In doing so, IWM offers a complex system approach, in which many different risks and benefits are considered. The aim is improved weed control. Many farmers have not embraced IWM practices despite the proven benefits to mitigate weed problems and increase the sustainability of weed management.
The project IWMPRAISE aims to support and promote the use of IWM in Europe. This will lead to improvements in weed management whilst also supporting more environmental friendly management practices. Thus having broad environmental benefits if the concept of integrated weed management is widely utilised by European farmers. In this work package, we investigate the decision making process of farmers with respect to integrated weed management in order to better target the research to the farmers needs and provide them with tailored results that takes into account their weed management decision making. The research steps are: 1. identify principles of IWM, 2. develop IWM framework, 3. interviewing experts and farmers.
Principles of Integrated Weed Management
Integrated Weed Management focuses on the management of weed populations over a period of time extending the current growth season by impacting weeds during several parts of the weed life cycle, either through:
- Reduction of seed rain
- Prevent establishment of weed seedlings
- Prevent seedlings to mature
The above diagram and control tactics focus on the weeds’ life cycle. Integrated Weed Management systems target the weed at different stages of its life cycle by combining several control tactics. The choice for farmers is which tactics to combine in order to get an efficient weed management system in place.
We defined a framework for IWM applicable in several cropping systems. Five different classes or pillars were distinguished for integrated weed management, that are important to make an informed decision on which tactics to combine into a weed management strategy that manages weed populations at a time scale covering the current growth season. The initial framework was based on a literature survey. It was further developed by weed management experts from the Netherlands, Denmark, UK, France, Slovenia, Italy and Spain who were interviewed I order to add expert based knowledge to the IWM framework. Successful IWM strategies combine tactics from all or most of these 5 classes (Figure 2). The tactics from figure 1 can each be attributed to these 5 classes:
- Diverse cropping system for increased or equal crop yields or profitability compared to conventional systems
- Cultivar choice and establishment: Selecting weed-suppressive and tolerant crops
- Field and soil management, enhancing crop growth
- Targeted control tactics to disturb weeds life cycle
- Monitoring & evaluation
Farmers from the Netherlands, Denmark, UK, France, Slovenia, Italy and Spain were interviewed to identify the farmer’s knowledge, thoughts and decision making process regarding IWM strategies and tactics covering different cropping systems. Their knowledge and use of the pillars from the framework is analysed and compared to the experts view. The farmers attributes (influenced by the public perception, their experience and world view in figure 3), the farm attributes (biophysical, economic and technological factors in figure 3) influence their perception of weeds and IWM and their subsequent decision on how to manage their weeds. The use of specific tactics and tools is limited by regulations.
This research is funded by EU grant agreement Nº 727321 and Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Safety, project code: AF-EU-17031 IWMPRAISE BO-47-002-007. Thanks are due to Aleid Teeuwen, Ekatherina Vasquez Zambrano, Erik Engelbrecht, Julia Hiddink and Rosanne van Velthoven for graphics.