WGRF executive director Garth Patterson confirmed the funding in an interview May 6.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Hugh Beckie, a world leader in herbicide-resistant weed surveys, will work with officials from Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives on the project.
Although glyphosate-resistant kochia has not been scientifically documented in Manitoba, both farmers and Beckie believe it exists.
In a survey conducted by Stratus Agri-Marketing 202 Manitoba farmers said they believe 23,000 acres are infested with the weed. The number might be even higher, Beckie said in a recent interview.
“Since it’s so widespread in Saskatchewan and Alberta now why wouldn’t it be in Manitoba, especially in the southwest where kochia is such a prevalent weed,” he said.
Glyphosate-resistant kochia was discovered at multiple sites in southern Alberta in 2011 and in southern and central Saskatchewan in 2012.
“GR (glyphosate-resistant) kochia will spread rapidly,” the project proposal states. “We have a brief monitoring period to support a proactive response to this pending problem in Manitoba. The proposed survey is an important component of that response.”
While all herbicide-resistant weeds are a concern to farmers, glyphosate-tolerant ones are even more troublesome because glyphosate is the most applied herbicide in the world and widely considered to be the most important. Glyphosate is key to zero- and minimum-tillage operations because it replaces cultivation as a means of weed control.
Farmers can delay the development of herbicide-tolerant weeds by rotating herbicides with different modes of action, applying more than one mode of action at the same time, and where possible, not applying a herbicide at all. But once herbicide-resistant weeds show up early detection and eradication can prevent their spread.
“By alerting growers at an early stage to the presence of GR kochia, we can increase the adoption of preventive and control measures to reduce the evolution and spread of the resistant biotype,” the project proposal states. “Because GR kochia will generally be more costly to control than non-kochia, early detection is critical to mitigate cost of herbicidal control and slow its rapid spread via seed (tumbleweed) or pollen.”
Crops such as soybean, potato, sugar beet, bean, chickpea, or sunflower have no in-crop herbicide options to control glyphosate-resistant kochia, the proposal says. Other crops, including canola and field pea, have few herbicide options.
“Detection and grower awareness are the key prerequisites for effective resistant weed management,” the proposal says.
The search for glyphosate-resistant weeds will be done in southern Manitoba over three weeks in the September to October period. Kochia seeds will be collected and then tested. Results will be available to farmers by March 31, 2014.
Growers will be informed if herbicide-resistant kochia is identified, but exact locations and grower names will be kept confidential, the project proposal says. Confirmed sites will be mapped and the information shared via websites and extension networks.
The WGRF is most associated with funding the development of new crop varieties through the checkoff it receives from western farmers’ wheat and barley sales and its endowment fund. While the WGRF is committed to continued varietal development, it will also fund projects such as the glyphosate-resistant kochia survey, agronomy, pest management, crop storage and crop utilization, Patterson said.
The WGRF invested $7.4 million in those areas last year and is committed to investing even more. Over the next four years the WGRF will pull $15 million from its $90-million endowment to fund various projects, without drawing down the fund, Patterson said.
“We’re targeting over 100 new projects,” he said. “Our goal is to match that to at least $30 million through other private-public programs and all that is targeted to producer-related research.”