Nascent research on the profitability of site-specific weed management has focused on reduced herbicide use, ignoring significant information costs for scouting, making treatment maps, and patch herbicide application. Including these information costs results in few, if any, studies, fully covering added costs with herbicide savings. Real-time, sensor-driven site-specific herbicide management promises to overcome many of the scouting and map-making costs so long as weed species recognition accuracy continues to improve and commercial capital costs to decline. Two means to increase revenues are possible from site-specific weed management: value-added crop products (e.g., herbicide-free, nontransgenic crops) and environmental stewardship payments from government programs. Site-specific ecological weed management offers a more fruitful means to garner both higher prices from “green” consumers and revenues for sound environmental stewardship. It entails using spatial tools to enhance habitat for weed predators and diseases and their vectors, as well as to grow crops that are better able to compete with weeds. The most economically promising areas for future weed management will draw upon both spatial and developmental management tools.
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Vol. 53 • No. 2