By Daniel Davidson
OMAHA (DTN)--If weeds persist in a farmer's fields, chances are he'll call his agronomist who will tell him what type of weed it is and how to get rid of it.
To complement agronomists' advice, scientists at the University of Nebraska have developed WeedSoft, a computerized weed-management tool that displays information on weeds and how to control them.
Controlling weeds is accomplished by identifying weeds that are present, selecting herbicides that will control the weeds at an early stage before they compete with the crop and effectively applying the herbicides at the right rate and in a timely manner.
Growers can use WeedSoft to evaluate how their herbicide practices may have impacted yield if they collect information on weed species and density.
WeedSoft's four modules are Advisor, Weedview, EnviroFX and Mapview. Advisor is a diagnostic and recommendation tool. Weedview is a photo database of 64 weeds. EnviroFX determines the risk of specific herbicide contaminating ground water. Mapview illustrates the risk of vulnerability of groundwater to herbicide contamination.
Advisor is the main module and includes several useful tools for managing a weed-control program. It helps users select products from a comprehensive database of possible products and control practices.
It can provide the user with an economical analysis of a field based on product selection, product costs, weed biology and weed management efficacy. One of the planning strengths of the Advisor module is it calculates yield loss based on weed competition and application of various herbicides.
Weedview is a visual library containing color images and line drawings for 64 common weed species found in the North Central states. This tool helps growers correctly identify the major weed species they are battling on their farm.
EnviroFX computes relative herbicide mobility, relative soil vulnerability to herbicide leaching, combined herbicide-soil ranking for leachability, and the potential for a herbicide to reach groundwater.
Mapview is a collection of digitized county maps (1:20,000) for Nebraska that display the vulnerability of certain soils or areas to groundwater contamination with herbicides. Mapview is only available in Nebraska.
WeedSoft 2004, which is now available in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin, is inexpensive software that's easy to use, but takes a bit time to populate all the records and to actually use the software.
First-time users will need to spend time learning to navigate the programs, understand their functions and begin building their own database of information on fields and weeds.
They also will need to know soil pH, soil type and weed identity and density to effectively use the program.