Moving Integrated Weed Management From Low Level to a Truly Integrated and Highly Specific Weed Management System Using Advanced Technologies
Integrated weed management (IWM) is one of the most commonly referred to approaches for sustainable and effective weed control in agriculture, yet it is not widely practiced, likely because current IWM systems fail to meet performance expectations of growers. The effectiveness and value of IWM systems should increase with increasing application specificity and true integration made possible with contemporary advances in technology, information systems and decision support. IWM systems can be classified based on their degree of application specificity and level of integration of tactics. In the application specificity pathway, a tactic is applied at a range of scales, from subfield to plant specific. In the integration pathway, multiple weed control tactics are combined in a synergistic manner. We hypothesize that the full value of IWM can and will be realized only when current and emerging technological innovations, information systems and decision tools are synergistically combined for use in real time. The True IWM system we envision requires automation and robotic technologies, coupled with information and decision support systems that are available or emerging but not yet enabled, in a proven integrated platform. Examples of low‐level, traditional and precision IWM systems are discussed, and research needs for a True IWM system are presented. We conclude that the immediate call should be for a long‐term investment in R&D and education (both theoretical and empirical) to develop and implement True IWM systems, an effort best accomplished in a public–private partnership where all essential entities are fully engaged and adequately resourced, including growers from all countries who will utilize IWM.