Experts have long sought to understand the factors that underlie farmer decision making for weed management. The majority of this interest has been in relation to the weak adoption of integrated management approaches and more recently, herbicide resistance strategies. In order to increase adoption in these contexts there is a need to understand better the underlying drivers for weed management decisions. The objective of the research reported here was to probe farmers' understanding of weed management to establish a baseline understanding of these key drivers. Thirty Ohio farmers participated in an in-depth interview where they were asked to reflect on how weeds are introduced and spread, what risks and benefits weeds pose, and what management strategies farmers are familiar with and which they prefer. Their responses were mapped, coded, and analyzed for dominant beliefs and major decision-making influences. The results indicate that farmers largely attribute the introduction and movement of weeds to factors outside their control (e.g., the environment, plant characteristics). They frequently cite diverse and integrated management, but their focus is on control as opposed to prevention. In general, they tend to receive messages about integrated and preventive approaches, but do not always put them into practice because of underlying beliefs about the inevitability of new weed introductions and spread.
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Vol. 22 • No. 2