Managing aquatic weeds in our nation’s waterways

The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental Laboratory (ERDC-EL) in Vicksburg, Mississippi, has been the primary research entity evaluating new chemical control techniques and transferring those technologies to other agencies, the private sector, and the general public. To ensure that technical expertise and capabilities for managing vegetation in and around water bodies were not lost, the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation (AERF), a nonprofit organization, was formed by concerned private and public groups to support applied research and development. Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) were established between AERF and ERDC-EL to provide a mechanism for transferring chemical control technology from ERDC-EL to academia, industry, and government. Maintaining weed management options with both newer and older herbicides is a significant accomplishment of the ERDC-EL team. To date, AERF has sponsored over $2 million via the CRADA for use in aquatic herbicide research and technology transfer. Maintaining an adequate and high-quality water supply is a high priority among research scientists, natural resource agencies, and those responsible for the management of water resources. Non-native plants can destroy aquatic ecosystems as they out-compete and replace native plant communities that are critical for fish and wildlife habitat. Because natural water bodies are sensitive ecological systems, any management techniques used to reduce nuisance vegetation must focus on species-selective control, while minimizing the adverse impact to the aquatic environment and to those using the resources. The development of such management tools requires sustained, adequately funded, high quality, applied research programs. Through the encouragement and leadership of the R&D team at ERDC-EL and the availability of resources via AERF, a number of researchers in government and academic facilities have become involved with supporting the testing and development of new and older chemicals for use in aquatic systems. Sharing the results through AERF from university researchers and ERDC-EL and private laboratories allowed the registrants to have a large database from which to develop their registration submissions. AERF essentially has become a clearinghouse for water resource management information among government, academic, and private sector researchers and a way for new products to be evaluated. By partnering with industry and academia, ERDC-EL through AERF is positively affecting the national research focus, while being able to have a greater impact on the direction of aquatic herbicide research and providing new chemical control products and techniques that are transferred to industry and the public.
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