Managing weed resistance has become a major challenge for many agricultural producers. Resistance is growing in terms of the number of weeds exhibiting resistance and the number of herbicides to which weeds are becoming resistant. The susceptibility of weeds to herbicides in many regions is a diminishing common pool resource affected by local producer weed control actions and natural conditions. Given the growing number of weeds exhibiting resistance, and the recognition that weed resistance is not a private property issue, we argue that managing resistance must be viewed as a wicked problem with no standard template across regions. Finding farm management approaches that help farmers successfully address weed resistance requires a shared perspective that incorporates an improved understanding of the human dimensions of weed management. Through an analysis of wicked problem characteristics, we argue that a people-centered approach to weed management is necessary. We offer principles learned from tackling other wicked agriculture and resource conservation issues to guide such approaches. Education, technical assistance, incentive schemes and regulatory efforts, and other strategies can play roles in constructing management approaches for herbicide resistance, but will have to vary from current efforts to unravel the mysteries of more effective weed management. Building a more inclusive approach, in terms of stakeholders and disciplines, will be key to achieving progress.
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Vol. 64 • No. sp1
Special Issue 2016