Sweet Briar biology graduate Lauren Schwartz ’09 is the lead author of an award-winning paper in the journal Weed Science.
Schwartz, who is now a post-doctoral research associate in the crop, soil and environmental sciences department at the University of Arkansas, won an Award of Excellence as an author of the 2015 Outstanding Paper in Weed Science. The award is given for the paper published in the journal that contributes most to the field of weed biology and ecology that year.
Schwartz was a research assistant and doctoral candidate at Southern Illinois University when she worked on the article, “Seedbank and Field Emergence of Weeds in Glyphosate-Resistant Cropping Systems in the United States.” The published work, which appeared in the April-June issue last year, resulted from a large-scale, multi-state study on how the use of glyphosate-resistant crops impacts the diversity of agricultural weeds. Glyphosates are synthetic nonselective herbicides.
The study examined 156 field sites with at least a three-year history of growing glyphosate-resistant crops in six states. The researchers analyzed how cropping systems and crop rotation, including frequency of planting glyphosate-resistant crops, affected weed communities.
What Schwartz and her colleagues found in the study is that the weed species present in the field and in the soil seedbank were not greatly affected by the use of glyphosate-resistant crops. Geography and the hardiness zone turned out to be the biggest factors, along with the previous year’s crop and system used for growing crops.
“Our research shows that the geography and how farms are managed influence which weed species will be present in the field — and not necessarily incorporating glyphosate-resistant crops,” Schwartz said.
“From this, we can help farmers to better understand how to properly manage their fields through integrated weed management tactics and how to integrate the use of this crop trait without losing its effectiveness or increasing the risk of glyphosate-resistant weeds.”
Schwartz received her master’s and Ph.D. in plant biology from Southern Illinois University, where she became interested in weed science and agro-ecology. Her dissertation focused on the population dynamics of closely related species that included invasive species in natural systems and weeds in agricultural systems.
She held a research assistantship in the weed science group in the Department of Plant, Soil and Agricultural Systems at Southern Illinois.
Weed Science is a journal of the nonprofit Weed Science Society of America.
Schwartz received her award during WSSA’s annual meeting earlier this month in San Juan, Puerto Rico.