Weeds aren’t just a blight on farming landscapes, they’re a costly and dangerous threat to America’s agricultural industries. Weeds are estimated to cost the U.S. over $4 billion annually in lost crops and many weed management technologies have a lasting impact on the environment and farmers’ pocketbooks. Additionally, many weed management systems have become ineffective as weeds become increasingly resistant to herbicides. In short, weeds are a major problem for the American farmer, a problem William Johnson has devoted his career to solving.
In his Purdue laboratory, Johnson develops economically and environmentally viable weed management systems. He collaborates with Purdue Extension and Indiana farmers to evaluate pitfalls of current weed management techniques and test solutions devised in his lab. Developing herbicides is only one small part of healthy soil and crops, which is why Johnson also studies cultural and biological practices impacting farms.
Johnson’s research has the potential to change the trajectory of contemporary farming around the world. Invasive weeds and pests can disrupt the food supply chain, which makes Johnson’s work relevant across disciplines, from economics to international development. Education is one of the strongest tools in researchers’ arsenals when combatting destructive economic and environmental practices, so Johnson works with stakeholders to promote responsible agricultural processes while practicing conservation and environmental awareness.