Weed Management in 2050: Perspectives on the Future of Weed Science

Published by Weed Science Society of America, 2018.

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The year 2050 is a landmark date as perceived by government, industry, and the media.
Around that time, the world’s human population is expected to peak at 9 billion, straining
global capacity to provide sufficient energy, freshwater, and food (Figure 1A) (Alexandratos
and Bruinsma 2012). Current crop production levels are not adequate to feed the projected
population, and meeting this anticipated demand is viewed as a major challenge for humanity.
The burden of meeting these needs will be exacerbated by climate change, loss of water
resources, and reductions in arable land due to multiple causes. Weed management is essential
for agricultural production and management of landscapes and the environment and will play
an important role in determining whether we meet future food production requirements.
This article is the result of a symposium held at the 2016 WSSA conference in San Juan,
Puerto Rico. The objective of the symposium was to consider the long-term future of weed
control and the knowledge needed to frame a sustainable system for weed management.
Symposium speakers were asked to extrapolate from current and emerging technologies to
imagine what weed management must look like in 2050 if agriculture is to realize the yield
increases required to sustain the world’s future population.