Improving Sustainable Weed Management in Soybean Agroecosystems Through Cover Cropping

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2018: $16,490.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Kentucky
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Erin Haramoto
University of Kentucky


  • Agronomic: soybeans


  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Pest Management: weed ecology

    Proposal abstract:

    Application of sustainable weed management practices in agronomic crops will be one of the largest challenges farmers face as the evolutionary race between chemical herbicides and herbicide resistant weeds continues. Weed management expenditures account for over one quarter of the total input cost in cropping systems, when considering the added price for herbicide resistant seeds and other management overheads (USDA 2016). With the growing number of herbicide resistant seed species emerging, this cost will continue to rise for farmers. Using an Integrated Weed Management (IWM) strategy with a biological and agroecological focus will lead to a more sustainable model for future weed management in various cropping systems.

    The project will cover how different management practices affect populations of marestail (Conyza canadensis), which can greatly reduce crop yields and is harder to manage on larges scales in conventional production when herbicide resistant populations evolve. While marestail can be problematic in corn production, it is primarily a weed in soybean systems. The states in the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education region account for over 15 percent of total United States soybean production, with farm cash value of over $6 billion annually (USDA 2017). This research will provide farmers with a more sustainable method for weed management that incorporates cover crops and reduces chemical applications. Sustainable agriculture cannot be achieved without promoting good stewardship towards our natural ecosystems, and enhancing the quality of life for farmers, and farm communities must align with these visions.

    The purpose of this project is to research how planting winter cover crops can affect marestail populations in specific, and weed populations in general, and if they can contribute to a decrease in herbicide applications for farmers in Kentucky.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1: Characterize marestail biology to better inform how cover crops can be used to manage this species.

    Objective 2: Determine how well the cover crops will suppress marestail emergence and growth.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.