Agriculture is the backbone of any economy given that people will need food now and in the future. It is important to note that people spend huge percentages of their income on food. To have sustainable growth in any country, there needs to be a continuous growth in food production (Acquaah 549). Food production has even gained a lot of concern in the recent past because of the ever increasing population which exerts more pressure on the current quantities of food.
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Consequently, scientists all over the world are busy looking for ways of increasing productivity from agricultural fields. Unfortunately, while scientists and other professionals are working hard to come up with ways of curbing weeds, nature is working against their efforts. Strains of weeds that are resistant to herbicides have developed and are increasingly becoming a problem to agriculture. Super weeds as these new strains are known are quickly multiplying and giving specialists a lot of problems.
Over the years, people have depended on herbicides to deal with weeds and this has been so far effective. However, from early 2000’s reports started to be made on some strains of weeds that were resistant to herbicides (Rastogi par 3). Though the problem looked minor at that time, it has slowly caught up with farmers.
Since then, more and more farmers have reported presence of resistant weeds in their fields. Despite the increased efforts that have been directed towards researching on how to deal with super weeds that have destroyed many farms, solution is not insight. Weeds are increasingly becoming resistant to the herbicides that are currently in use. Waterhemp and actually many weeds are developing herbicide resistant strains at a very alarming rate.
The numbers of acres of land that have been infested by super weeds have increased to around 12 million (Gillman and Eric 148). The crux of the matter is that no current technology seems to have a solution to this problem. Scientists have hinted that it might take as long as 20 years before they are able to come up with herbicides to deal with super weeds. That period spells doom to the entire human race.
It is difficult to explain with certainty how the problem of super weeds begun. However, the era of roundup has been blamed for making people forget that weeds were also mutating. Genetically modified crops that were produced with the ability to withstand glyphosate that is the main ingredient in roundup made many people to use the herbicide.
It is important to note that this worked wonders from the beginning. Weeds were destroyed and output increased (Zimdahl 381). As a result, people forgot about the traditional methods of weed control or even to use different herbicides.
However, while people were basking in their temporal success, strains of weed that are resistant to glyphosate developed. This has become a real problem in the agricultural sector given that more and more weeds are becoming resistant to herbicides. On the same note, advanced technologies in food production that were highly advocated for in the 1990’s encouraged the use of too much herbicide. This has also been linked with the emergence of super weeds which are resistant to these herbicides (Garthwaite par 6).
Some people wonder why the issue of super weeds is a problem. We have had weeds from time immemorial so why should this one be special. Super weeds have been known to be very efficient in absorption of soil moisture leaving the ground dry for crop survival. It is important to note here that that super weeds take up water from the soil at a faster rate than crops do therefore giving crops unfavorable competition.
Unfortunately, super weeds do not only absorb water from the soil, they also take up nutrients leaving crops without the important means of survival. Moreover, the weeds multiply and grow at a very high rate compared to crops. As a result, super weeds interfere with the normal production of crops (Moss and Brown 143).
This reduces the output that can be collected from one acre compared to a field without weeds. Reduced production of food directly leads to increase in the prices of food in the world. Given the current rate of population growth as well as worsening economic standards, we cannot afford either food reduction or increased food prices. Besides the reduction in the quantity of food in the country, reduction in production reduces income of farmers.
On the same note, farmers usually try their best to find ways of eliminating the super weeds from their fields. This makes them to use different herbicides with the aim of finding the best one (Johanning, John and Bryan 403). These herbicides are not given freely to farmers.
As a result, farmers end up using a lot of money on a problem that they cannot solve. Similarly, in their quest to do away with the super weeds, farmers go to the extent of assuming that they apply small quantities of herbicides. In this regard, farmers increase the quantities of herbicides they use.
Unfortunately, these herbicides contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment in the long run. Subsequently, the problem of super weeds has indirectly led to increased chances of environmental pollution (Zimdahl 384). Additionally, some species of super weeds have been identified as being harmful to the health of livestock. Some weeds grow very tall to the extent that they are able to stop combines in their run ways.
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Fortunately, there are alternative ways that can be used though they are not very effective in dealing with the problem of super weeds. Those fields or areas where super weeds have not taken root should take precautions to avoid getting into this predicament. Firstly, traditional means of weed control will have to be used in some instances (Rastogi par 7).
Crop rotation is one way through which weeds have been controlled over the years. It is important to note that crop rotation is also environmentally friendly because it reduces the amount of herbicides that are used in a given field. Use of cover crops is also good because it helps to hinder growth of weeds. Moreover, there are other very effective biological weed control methods that can help in reducing development of resistant weeds.
Additionally, good soil management can significantly reduce weeds as well as the use of herbicides. This will help in curbing the problem of resistant weeds given that people will not depend on herbicides which frustrate them. On the same note, farmers should be educated on the importance of interchanging the type of herbicides they use so that weeds do not easily develop a resistant strain (Garthwaite par 8).
There is a proposal that people should find ways of collecting seeds of weeds during harvest so that they can be destroyed. This is expected to highly reduce the rate at which weeds multiply though nobody has decisively explained how this will work.
The future of the super weeds problem is vivid. The problem will get worse if people do not reduce their reliance on herbicides. Nature has once again manifested itself as being superior. Scientists are busy trying to come up with a chemical that can be effective in dealing with the super weed problem. However, this will not extricate farmers from the current scenario. Chemicals will just postpone the problem, but it will eventually come back and nobody knows how serious it will be.
The main aim of technological advancement in agricultural production has been to reduce the quantity of chemicals used in farming. But with the current wave of things, farmers are being forced to use huge quantities of chemicals. Moreover, given the emergence of resistant weeds, the possibility of having resistant insects in future is high which poses another problem (Johanning, John and Bryan 405).
Food production needs to be enhanced in order to feed the ever growing population of the world. Consequently, weeds should be eliminated to reduce competition they give to crops. However, weeds are continually mutating and will develop resistant strains.
It is important to note that though scientists say that they are working round the clock to come up with a solution to super weeds, the truth is that these kinds of research take decades before they give results. Meanwhile, a way has to be found to contain the super weeds that are increasing daily. Otherwise, our country and the world at large should be ready to deal with the problem of food scarcity in the near future.
Acquaah, George. Principles of Plant Genetics and Breeding. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.
Garthwaite, Josie. “Superweeds, Superpests: The Legacy of pesticides.” The New York Times 2012. Web.
Gillman, Jeff and Eric S. Heberlig. How the Government Got in Your Backyard: Superweeds, Franenfoods, Lawn wars and the (Nonpartisan) Truth about Environmental Policies. Portland: Timber Press, 2011. Print.
Johanning, Nathan R., John E. Preece and Bryan G. Young. “The Influence of Chilling and Chipping of Star-of-bethlehem (ornithogalu, Umbellatum) Bulbs on Plant Growth and Reproduction.” Invasive Plant Science Management 5.4 (2012): 402-407. Print.
Moss, Stanley R. and Brown rubin. “Herbicide-resistant Weeds: a Worldwide Perspective.” The Journal of Agricultural Science 120.2 (1993): 141-148. Print.
Rastogi, Nina S. “Genetically Modified Crops May not be Environmentally Harmful.” Washington Post 2012. Web.
Zimdahl, Robert L. Fundamentals of Weed Science. Waltham: Academic Press, 2007. Print.