U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in Automation: The Future of Weed Control in Cropping Systems (2013) 11-32. DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-7512-1_2


Crop losses due to weeds result in reduced yields and quality and increases in harvest costs. Weed management often requires major resource inputs to produce a successful crop. Herbicides are central to the conventional approach to weed management, and they have allowed the grower to reduce management priority, time, effort, and cost of managing weeds. Their use has at times come at a price such as herbicide-resistant weeds, environmental damage, reduced water quality, and loss of genetic diversity. Although growers use a combination of management practices to control weeds, differences between those used in conventional agriculture compared to organic production systems often vary widely in their implementation and relative importance. Approaches to weed management within an organic system revolve around implementing a range of techniques, often consecutively over the course of the cropping rotation. For both organic and conventional growers, weed management remains a significant impediment to optimizing crop yield, improving crop quality, and reducing the costs of production.