The UMaine Weed Ecology group works at the interface of two principles of sustainable agriculture: the need to maintain or improve soil quality and the use of ecological approaches for pest management, specifically weeds. The pronounced effects that soil-improving management practices may exert on annual weed dynamics were demonstrated in the Maine Potato Ecosystem Project, a cropping systems comparison initiated in 1989, which concluded in 2012. Here we found that soil-improving practices including organic amendments and green manuring contributed to weed management by encouraging potato vigor and interspecific effects on weeds (Gallandt et al., 1998). This inspired an analysis of the potential contributions that soil improving management practices may have on weeds both directly, and indirectly through changes in soil quality. The resulting review “Improving soil quality: implications for weed management” (Gallandt et al., 1999) established a plan of research objectives and questions that continues to guide my program (see also Gallandt, 2004, “Soil-improving practices for ecological weed management”).
Our current projects include efforts to better understand growers’ attitudes and beliefs regarding weeds, and their management practices, as related to the perspectives of researchers and educators. For more information, see Current Research “Mental Models”.
We are continuing our work with hand tools for weeding on small- to mid-scale operations.