Submitted to: Journal of Production Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 1, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Weed management is one of the critical factors limiting optimum crop yield; however, excess herbicide use threatens our groundwater and environment. Alternative weed management strategies are needed as the use of synthetic chemical herbicides for weed control becomes more restricted. Biological weed control arises from the fact that biotic factors significantly influence the distribution, abundance, and competitive abilities of plant species. Biological control offers an alternative means of suppressing weed growth and establishment. Most of the research on microbial control of weeds has concentrated on fungal plant pathogens for broadleaf weed control. The role of bacteria in weed control also is being explored, although their potential contribution often is overlooked. The changes with microbial communities readily observed with changes in management make it evident that weed suppressive communities may exist and altered with management. In biologically based weed management, weed suppressive soils play an important part in weed control and management of soils to enhance weed suppression. The research on microbial based biological weed control has demonstrated the potential for use of naturally-occurring plant-suppressive microbe as a novel, nonchemical approach for controlling weeds. Microbes can have a profound affect on plant growth, and thus have a place in modern weed management strategies. Ecologically based approaches, such as biological weed control, which take into consideration the weed, the pathogen, and the environment will result in the greatest success.
Technical Abstract: Alternative weed management strategies are needed as the use of synthetic chemical herbicides for weed control becomes more restricted. Biological control of weeds is based on the premise that biotic factors have a significant influence on the distribution, abundance, and competitive abilities of plant species. Biological control offers alternative means of suppressing weed growth and establishment. To date, more than a hundred pathogens have been identified as having the potential for weed biocontrol. There are a number of constraints or problems in using these agents that need to be solved prior to acceptance, which include slow or inadequate suppression, limited host spectrum, and lack of consistency across environments. It is imperative that we begin now to develop our understanding of the soil microbes and their ecology, so that we may utilize them to benefit agriculture, especially in the area of weed management. The present use and potential application of these microorganisms in weed management need to be considered in weed management strategies.