Clarence Swanton has worked for 16 years on a super cool project that takes about 40 minutes to explain properly, as he did at the recent Southwest Agricultural Conference. Perhaps more impactful, however, is the time-lapse video he showed whereby the mere presence of weedy surroundings actually killed a tobacco seedling.
Perhaps this makes sense — enough competition for light, water, and nutrients could starve out a plant. But Swanton’s work took out the competition factor; the seedling died because of too much oxidative stress, triggered by the presence of a competitor.
Swanton’s work into how crops compete with weeds is not just fascinating to see — the implications of how plants communicate and how they react to weed pressure even before emerging is truly ground-breaking (pun intended).
While we’ve covered Swanton’s work previously on RealAgriculture, I thought it was worth a discussion on not just how plants communicate but just WHAT they can decipher based on their surroundings. From there, Swanton also relates what happened when he used vitamin C and Aspirin as a seed treatment…the opportunities are endless!