North Carolina – SARE Southern

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Hannah Stevens

Better Weed Control Through Mechanical and Electrical Means

According to a study by a graduate student at North Carolina State University, a combination of mechanical and electrical means may be an economically viable part of a weed control program.

Katherine Jennings, a NCSU researcher, and Levi Moore, a graduate student, focused on Palmer amaranth control in sweet potatoes and peanuts using mechanical means (weed pulling) and an agricultural tool that sends electricity to the roots. The electricity causes the cells to burst, resulting in the death of the plant. The methods were applied at different heights to the palmer amaranth, and the effects of treatments on palmer amaranth control were compared using a scale from 0% (no treatment effect to 100%) to 100 (plant death). These methods were compared with hand control and post-emergence herbicide treatments.

Hand Weed Removal

Hand weed removal was consistently found to be the best method of controlling weeds. The mechanical and electrical control of palmer amaranth was higher at 0.9m and 1.5m heights. When weeds were smaller in height, mechanical control was less effective. When weeds were larger than the cash crop’s height, electrical control was less effective.

The results also showed that palmer amaranth could be controlled most effectively in peanuts and sweet potato using both mechanical and electrical methods. Hand removal was often the most effective way to remove peanut pods and sweet potatoes. However, the results of weed pulling and electrical treatments had similar yields. Cucumber weed control was less successful due to plant tendrils grasping onto the palmer amaranth making it difficult for weeds to be removed.

The project allowed the researchers to train graduate students in weed management and to demonstrate technology to growers.

SARE in North Carolina

The North Carolina Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE), is sponsored by the Southern Region SARE and coordinated by North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University. Our goal is to create a program that improves the state’s environmental, social and economic sustainability through education and research. North Carolina SARE works with producers, researchers, extension faculty, community organizations, and other stakeholders to find and implement science-based practices in all areas of North Carolina’s agriculture system. SARE provides education in sustainable agriculture through a variety of training each year.

You can also read more about Farm Certifications – SARE Southern.

North Carolina Impacts

  • $14.9 million in funding since 1988
  • 235 projects funded since 1988

You can also read about the Mississippi – SARE Southern and the Oklahoma – SARE Southern.

Professional Development Program

In each state, agricultural educators work directly alongside farmers and ranchers to promote sustainable agriculture production and marketing. SARE state agricultural coordinators offer support in sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies through a program called “The Professional Development Program” (PDP).

Fellows Program

The Sustainable Agriculture Fellows Program is offered by SARE and NACAA. It enhances Cooperative Extension staff’s knowledge of sustainable agriculture and gives them broad-based national exposure to unique and successful sustainable agriculture programs.

State Contacts

SARE State Coordinators play a vital role in expanding sustainable agriculture training for Extension, NRCS and other agricultural professionals. This will help producers transition to a more sustainable farming system.

Sanjun Gu

North Carolina A&T State University

Email | (336) 285-4954

Chris Reberg-Horton

North Carolina State University

Email | (919) 515-7597

You can see more Farm Grants for Females elsewhere on this website.