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Development and validation of 'Weed Management Support System' (Weed Manager)

Project Report No. 388

Development and validation of 'Weed Management Support System' (Weed Manager)

by

LV Tatnell1, JH Clarke1, D Ginsburg1, PJW Lutman2, A Mayes2, L Benjamin2, DJ Parsons3, AE Milne3, DJ Wilkinson3, DHK Davies4

1ADAS Boxworth, Battlegate Road, Boxworth, Cambridge CB3 8NN
2Rothamsted Research, West Common, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ
3Silsoe Research Institute, Wrest Park, Silsoe, Beds MK45 5HS
4Scottish Agricultural Centre, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH9 3JG

 

Abstract

The aim of this project was to develop and validate ‘Weed Manager’, a computer-based Decision Support System module designed to fit within the Arable Decision Support suite of modules to provide farmers, agronomists and distributors with a robust tool to plan and develop weed management strategies.

The system consists of a ‘within-season’ planning tool to investigate a range of weed management strategies in a winter wheat crop in a single season, and a ‘rotational’ planning tool allowing users to consider weed control options over a six-year arable cropping period. Both parts are model based, using data specific to individual farms. The critical objective was to predict the impact of an actual or anticipated weed population on the yield of winter wheat and to investigate a range of mitigation strategies (crop agronomy, weed control options) to reduce or prevent yield loss. Each management option is ranked economically for the user to compare and select. The complex models behind Weed Manager are fully functioning for 13 common arable weed species, including the major UK weeds such as black-grass, chickweed, cleavers and wild-oats. The involvement of intended users via workshops, surveys and events during the development phase (2000-2005) ensured that it is a user-friendly weed management tool.

Additional features of Weed Manager are the herbicide and weed encyclopaedias. There is a comprehensive herbicide database and encyclopaedia containing information on approximately 150 herbicides used in winter wheat. Herbicide data for 20 rarer or more unusual weed species for which data were not previously available were generated through a set of glasshouse screening trials. These results are displayed as additional information in both encyclopaedias. The weeds encyclopaedia also contains detailed information on the weed biology, life cycle, geographic location, environmental effects, identification of, and control measures for, over 140 key arable weed species, along with photographs of all the key growth stages from cotyledon through to flowering. Both encyclopaedias display data used in the decision support part of the system, or can be accessed and used separately. Additional information on specific issues such as herbicide resistance, environmental impacts, biodiversity and cultural control measures are all included.

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