FIND OUT WHAT’S NEW IN THE WORLD OF RESEARCH
Blocking light to improve herbicide resistance
A few basic changes to decrease light hitting the ground in the field could help the fight against herbicide resistant weeds.
These changes are the focus of the project called ‘Fight the Light’ initiated by University of Guelph Professor François Tardif, from the Department of Plant Agriculture, and Weed Management Field Crops Program Lead Mike Cowbrough from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs.
Weeds develop resistance after repeated exposure to herbicides. The key is to only use herbicides as part of an integrated weed control system, instead of counting on them to do the entire job.
“We are looking into ways to use the herbicide at the start and then have other means to control weeds,” says Tardif.
He and Cowbrough are promoting the fact that to stop weed growth, farmers can use the canopy the crops will produce to protect the ground from light. Without light, weed growth is stymied. Therefore, the best method for creating a thicker canopy is to grow the rows of crops closer together.
Having a cycle of plant residue or cover crops present during the months without main crops, as well as the addition of a thicker canopy will help cover the ground and also prevent weed growth.
This research is funded by Grain Farmers of Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs, and DuPont Pioneer. •
New tests mean wheat varieties available sooner
Two new tests developed at the University of Guelph will deliver new, desirable wheat varieties faster to farmers.
University of Guelph Professors Koushik Seetharaman and Jayne Bock from the Department of Food Science have evaluated two tests for wheat breeders that will help with new varieties being approved.
Both tests are targeted primarily at gluten. One, which is being used by industry now, tests for the network-forming capabilities of gluten, starch and soluble carbohydrates. The other, released commercially in 2013, tests for gluten quality and performance.
These tests will reveal to breeders the best wheat varieties to be carried forward for approval. With these tests, breeders can use very small sample sizes to get the same kind of quality information that can only be collected during final field trials.
“This means farmers will be able to obtain and grow the wheat sooner,” says Bock.
Ultimately, these tests will help usher in wheat with superior traits such as higher yields and drought and insect resistance.
Funding for this research was provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario, Dow AgroSciences, C&M Seeds, Kraft Mississauga Mill, and Kellogg’s. •
Research Roundup is provided by members of SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) at the University of Guelph’s Office of Research. For more information, contact a SPARK writer at 519-824-4120, ext. 52667.