PhD student studies alternatives to herbicides

Herbicide resistance is beginning to become the dark cloud looming around us in Western Canada, and it is steadily increasing.

There is concern that at some point we may loose our valuable and effective herbicides on a good portion of our weeds.

Breanne Tidemann, a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta, and a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is study alternatives to herbicides in an effort to mitigate the threat of herbicide resistance.

Tidemann says a lot of the research that has been done has revolved around alternate technologies that are available in the world.

“For my PhD one of the main areas I’ve been focusing on is actually technologies from Western Australia. It’s a group of technologies called harvest weed seed control and the idea is to control the weed seeds that come out the back of the harvester. Instead of putting them back out onto the field and into your seed bank the idea is to control them in some way to stop them from being problems in future years”, says Tidemann.

Some of the technologies that have been explored include narrow windrow burning, chaff carts, and the Harrington Seed Destructor. She says that one of the biggest questions that is going into her research right now is whether or not they can combine good agronomics with these options to make them even more effective.

Tidemann adds that when asked, many farmers were not ready for this sort of technology yet.

Tidemann says that the sort of research she is working on is “a little bit more forward thinking in terms of when the farmers have to do something, what can we offer them as alternatives.”

Tidemann says that her Ph.D. was funded by the Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund, which gave her the opportunity to go to Australia to work with the technologies and to really get a feel of how they may work in our own systems.