Could society eliminate a weed/pest completely? - The Combine Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-22-2017, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Could society eliminate a weed/pest completely?

In the thread about missing members, it was suggested that we just need to start more topics, so here is one:

Alberta has rat free status, many human diseases have been declared eradicated in recent decades ( until people stopped vaccinating their kids at least) counties try to prevent new invasive species, some people even think/believe/promote eliminating Carbon from the atmosphere. So given the enough motivation and resources eliminating an invasive species with large economic costs and very questionable benefits such as Canada Thistle should be possible, shouldn't it?

Given the demographic and technology trends, there will be ever more unemployed/underemployed, even unemployable people available for such make work projects. We will be paying them to do nothing anyways. Maybe have to pull weeds or inspect weeds for a day to collect the welfare cheque. How many more infrastructure make work projects (roads)will we need with an aging and declining population which no longer needs to, or cares to drive to work. Priorities will shift.

On the go weed ID coupled with Targeted weed spraying. How good will satellite resolution become at identifying species, maybe it already can?

Robotics, could potentially identify then mechanically remove weeds, even weed seeds and insects. Think Nanotechnology, and the potential to seek out microscopic bad guys.

GMO to create enemies or cross breeding of the species.

Increasing trend towards chemical free farming, so there is consumer support for such measures, they are already voting with their wallets. Eliminate the pest and eliminate the chemical control forever.

Roadblocks are:


Borders, Nations can't agree on much ( except eliminating the evil CO2) North Korea type nations may not be interested in joining the party. Would be all but pointless if everyone isn't on board.

Private property rights. There will always be someone who doesn't want someone else trespassing on their private property for the good of society, especially if the control is chemical.

Weed seed banks, could take decades if ever to eliminate those.

Public will. The average tax payer has much bigger priorities in mind than helping "rich" farmers. Would need to bring Al Gore and a cute polar bear with a thistle barb stuck in his paw to create a PR campaign. This is not a sexy issue that would win an election.

Defining a pest, my pest might be your pet, garden plant or even your source of income, and vice versa.

If we had devoted a small fraction of the money and effort to this, that has gone into the anti Global Warming fiasco, I suspect it would have been quite achievable. What do you think? Is it possible, would it be worthwhile? Would you support it? Could it be sold to Joe Public? Is it practical with current technology?

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-22-2017, 11:26 PM
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Depends on region as to what weeds are worse, here thistles are an annoyance but far from the worst weed we fight. Major problem in processing peas around here as you end up going around the patch while harvesting (can't easily separate the buds from peas. Nightshade berries are also a similar problem.)

Down the road might be a lot of unemployed, but god forbid they would want to put in the work pulling weeds. Plenty of places hiring that require some physical labor but they don't get many applicants, and many that do apply aren't that great and a job like that is a last resort. Working for a pea/sweet corn processing place this summer, would be amazed by how many people don't know what a thistle is let alone any other weed growing in the field is. About the only one everyone can identify is ditch weed aka hemp.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-23-2017, 12:02 AM
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Getting everyone involved and to have buy-in on eliminating the weed would be a big problem. Then logistics # people needed etc.

We've gotten there with some human diseases so it is possible
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-23-2017, 10:35 AM Thread Starter
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Two more thoughts:

1) Environmentalists who are against everything would be against such measures. There would inevitably be some endangered species of nasty insect that only feeds on one weed. National Parks and protected areas would need to be treated. Even biological controls would cause these types to get up in arms.

2) Burkina Faso and Bangladesh and the like would certainly expect rich countries like Canada to pay for their programs in order to sign on, not at all unlike the current war on CO2. So it would become a wealth transfer, just like the current CO2 program. Could look at that two ways, negative, for all the obvious reasons, or positive because that would mean the UN and the extreme left would be on side (scary thought).
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 12:06 AM
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Many years ago while taking ag at the university we wetre told that wild oats has a hormone in the seed hull that prevents it from germinating . This allows the weed to always have seed ready to germinate every year and this will be good for many many years ( heard stories of fields being in hay since the wheat was stoked and then broken up and you could see where the stooks were from the wild oats ) . The prof said that there was a way to negate the effets of the hormone so all the wild oats seeds would germinate effectively cleaning all the wild oats out if you summerfallowed it . Funny how this never made the chemical companies to doo list !! But it would be nice to have fields free of wild oats . I hear that in Alaska there is some farmland where there isn't any wild oats . Guess it is a prohibited weed .
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 05:51 PM
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Theres new technology called crispr used to edit genes and its being used in the cayman islands as well as other places to erradicate mosquitos. Something along the lines of introducing male sterility into the population or something to that effect. Im sure it can be done to plants as well. The bigger question though is not if a species should be erradicated but should it be and if it is what are the consequences in the future and could it be reversed...
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 05:47 AM
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Depends on the region that they are ready to take part in it and help in eliminating it.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 10:02 AM
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Home owner and farmers everywhere have tried to wipe out dandelion but they still rear the ugly heads everywhere. Might be one of the only things that urban and rural people agree on getting rid of.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 10:11 AM
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 10:50 AM
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Alberta is rat free not because rats were eradicated but because they were prevented from coming here in the first place. The problem came from the east and Alberta saw the potential and started the "rat free" program to STOP them from getting here from Saskatchewan before they arrived. HUGE difference in preventing something from gaining a foothold and trying to get rid of it after it is established. We still have rats it's just that as soon as they are reported, the rat patrol eliminates them, nips it in the bud as it were. Similar program in place for scentless chamomile. ZERO tolerance but we still have some. The Alberta/BC peace SHOULD be the cleanest farmland in North America because it is relatively young as farm land and is separated from the rest of the farming world by the big bush fence yet, we have still managed to import pests from the rest of the prairies. farmers bring in products like seed and used equipment from other areas that turns out to be contaminated and, bingo, it's here. There are ways to mitigate these threats but some Farmers ignore them either through ignorance or "it can't happen to me" syndrome. A good example is club root. We know how it spreads and we know how to minimize the opportunity for it to spread, IE, don't import used ground disturbing equipment (cultivators, drills etc) unless it is thoroughly cleaned then cleaned again, 4 year rotation on canola (or any other plant from the Brassicaceae family), use resistant varieties and so on and yet, farmers continue to move dirty equipment from region to region, run short rotations and grow non resistant varieties. It often only takes one. Case in point. I bought grain in Buick Creek BC back in '93-'94 and, at that time there was a serious problem with scentless chamomile. This area had only been farmed since the 60's so was relatively virgin farmland free of many pests that were being fought in most other areas. So, how did such a relatively antiseptic farming area develop a severe SC problem in such a short time?. Apparently, what I was told by the locals, an immigrant farmer brought in some of his own seed. When the the field came up and was polluted with SC, he hayed it and sold the bales. Those bales were trucked out, not covered of course, and spread SC seed all over the place. One farmer that thought he was smarter than everyone else and the whole region pays the price for ever. Because farmers are independent, I don't see much of a chance of eradicating anything. there is always someone that just doesn't give a $hit or thinks that "it can't happen to me". BTW, I read somewhere that there have been people try to import rats into Alberta because they don't think it's "fair" that rats aren't allowed to live here. People suck.

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