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Sweet corn study provides large-scale picture of better fields
Date:1/5/2010

a was that fields receiving the highest herbicide rates and most expense weed control programs had higher weed diversity, more weed interference, and produced the most weed seeds. Williams believes this may be the result of farmers applying more herbicides and at higher rates to the weediest fields, but with limited success.

The research team used a type of data analysis called Classification and Regression Trees (CART) to make sense of the enormous amount of data in the study. CART is more commonly used in social science experiments. The analysis looks for a single variable in the huge dataset which separates it into two distinct datasets, then four, then eight, like the branches of a tree. The analysis can also "prune" the tree back to something that's most meaningful, thus identifying the few variables most important to crop yield.

Although weeds are still a big problem for farmers, Williams noted that when this recent data was compared with weed surveys done some 50 years ago, "the overall weed density is an order of magnitude lower. Also, a lot of the current weeds weren't a major problem years ago, but then there are some like lambsquarters that are still pretty highly ranked. So there's been a little shuffling of the players, which we expect to continue."


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Contact: Debra Levey Larson
dlarson@illinois.edu
217-244-2880
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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