Optimizing Electrical and Mechanical Palmer Amaranth Control and Reducing Seed Production and Viability

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2019: $16,498.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2022
Grant Recipient: North Carolina State University
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:


  • Agronomic: peanuts
  • Vegetables: cucurbits, sweet potatoes


  • Pest Management: physical control

    Proposal abstract:

    Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) is the most troublesome weed in U.S. crops. In an effort to reduce herbicide use, tillage and labor costs to control Palmer amaranth, commercially available electrical and mechanical control methods will be evaluated to optimize use efficiency. Electrical and mechanical weed control eliminate weeds that are taller in height than the crop canopy. Mechanical and electrical weed control has the potential to reduce the amount of between-row cultivation, herbicide application, and hand labor needed to achieve weed control, as well as the ability to selectively manage weeds that extend above the crop canopy to preserve the biodiversity of other small non-weedy plants that can support a high diversity of insect species. Additionally, it is hypothesized that seed production and viability can be reduced from electric treatments to sexually mature plants. Sweet potato, peanut, and cucumber are economically important crops in North Carolina that each are easily outcompeted for light by Palmer amaranth, which can grow to 2 m tall. Therefore, studies will be conducted in each crop to optimize the use efficiency of each method of control. Another study will be conducted to evaluate the effect that electrical applications have on Palmer amaranth pre-dispersal seed viability. Once the studies are concluded, an economic analysis will evaluate each control method and the results will be disseminated to growers and the scientific community.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Develop recommendations needed for electric weed control and mechanical weed removal to optimize crop yield and quality.
    • Develop a management program to reduce weed seed number and viability of seeds added to the soil seed bank.
    • Assess the cost to benefit economics for using the electric method of weed control and mechanical weed puller and disseminate research-based knowledge and recommendations through grower meetings, technical extension articles, and refereed journal publications.
    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.