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Talk – Dirty Weeds Done Dirt Cheap
November 27, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm| Free
Dirty Weeds Done Dirt Cheap: Coupling weed ecology and economics to aid farmer decision-making
Speaker: Sonja Birthisel, PhD Student, Ecology & Environmental Sciences, UMaine
Weeds are a major economic concern for farmers worldwide. The State of Maine is home to a growing population of beginning organic farmers, for whom weeds are especially challenging.
Organic farmers and others wishing to reduce pesticide use can leverage ecological principles to develop effective strategies that minimize environmental costs. However, learning to do this is challenging, and usually accomplished through expensive trial-and-error on the part of the farmer.
We have been exploring strategies to help lessen the steep learning curve beginning organic farmers face in managing weeds ecologically. This talk will describe progress toward developing a digital educational tool for weed management, WEEDucator, as well as work quantifying the economics of popular organic weed management tactics.
Sonja K. Birthisel is a PhD student in Ecology and Environmental Sciences at UMaine. Her dissertation focuses on challenges farmers face in managing agricultural weeds, and how climate change may impact weeds and the tactics we use to manage them. Birthisel is passionate about addressing practical questions posed by farmers, and using new media to improve scientific communication.
Birthisel holds a Bachelors in Biology from Luther College, and a Masters in Ecology and Environmental Sciences from UMaine. Her adviser, Dr. Eric Gallandt, is a leading scholar in the field of weed ecology. Birthisel has received awards for academic excellence including the Luther College Regent Scholarship, the prestigious Correll Fellowship, and the Sarah Jane White Spruce Memorial Scholarship. Her past experiences include work at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, and public service with FoodCorps.