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Battling the weeds

Battling the weeds
This is the time of year when I can’t stand my garden. With all the rain we’ve had so far this summer, the weeds are growing much faster than the tomatoes, peppers and flowers. It seems like for every weed I pick, three more pop up in its place.

Yet gardeners and farmers understand that it’s best to keep up with the weeding as best you can; otherwise, the weeds will out-compete the crops.

While I can tolerate a few extra weeds in my garden because it’s my hobby, farmers must take weed management seriously. Around the world, 20 to 40 percent of potential crops are destroyed each year because of weeds, bugs and disease, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Farmers today rely on the latest crop-protection technology to control weeds and pests in fields. These advances have helped farmers increase crop yields while reducing the need for agricultural chemicals and pesticides.

Farmers are also careful to use crop inputs more precisely. Just like a good gardener, farmers use soil testing and integrated pest management (IPM) strategies to apply exactly the right amount, if any, at the right time and right place so crops can survive and thrive.

If you’ve ever tried to grow a garden like me, then you know how it’s a constant struggle to fight the weeds, the bugs and the weather. But every year, I learn something new and try to make my garden better. It’s the same for farmers, too. They’re always trying to improve and listen to what consumers want.

Written by Teresa Bjork, senior features writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.