Reviewing research priorities in weed ecology, evolution and management: a horizon scan.
Weedy plants pose a major threat to food security, biodiversity, ecosystem services and consequently to human health and wellbeing. However, many currently used weed management approaches are increasingly unsustainable. To address this knowledge and practice gap, in June 2014, 35 weed and invasion ecologists, weed scientists, evolutionary biologists and social scientists convened a workshop to explore current and future perspectives and approaches in weed ecology and management. A horizon scanning exercise ranked a list of 124 pre-submitted questions to identify a priority list of 30 questions. These questions are discussed under seven themed headings that represent areas for renewed and emerging focus for the disciplines of weed research and practice. The themed areas considered the need for transdisciplinarity, increased adoption of integrated weed management and agroecological approaches, better understanding of weed evolution, climate change, weed invasiveness and finally, disciplinary challenges for weed science. Almost all the challenges identified rested on the need for continued efforts to diversify and integrate agroecological, socio-economic and technological approaches in weed management. These challenges are not newly conceived, though their continued prominence as research priorities highlights an ongoing intransigence that must be addressed through a more system-oriented and transdisciplinary research agenda that seeks an embedded integration of public and private research approaches. This horizon scanning exercise thus set out the building blocks needed for future weed management research and practice; however, the challenge ahead is to identify effective ways in which sufficient research and implementation efforts can be directed towards these needs.