Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

July 27, 2000

The Olympics of Weed Science: U of G hosts international competition

The knowledge and skills of the best weed science students in Canada and the United States will be tested in a day-long competition Aug. 1 at the Elora Research Station.

The annual Northeastern Collegiate Weed Science Contest is being hosted this year by the University of Guelph's Department of Plant Agriculture and the Ontario Weeds Committee. Graduate and undergraduate weed science students from 10 schools in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States will compete in four main events -- herbicide injury diagnostic, weed identification, sprayer calibration, and problem solving. Awards are presented to the top three overall graduate and undergraduate students as well as the top three teams.

"It's the Olympic games of weed science," says plant agriculture professor Francois Tardif, chair of the organizing committee. "Students study very hard for this event."

More than 60 students from Ohio State, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Kentucky, Maryland, SUNY Cobleskill, Delaware, Cornell and Nova Scotia Agricultural College will be competing. U of G students are not participating this year because the University is hosting the event, so instead they are helping to organize the contest. Several U of G faculty and extension staff are also volunteering their expertise with the event.

Competing students must be able to identify different weeds and herbicides. There are 80 potential weed species that contestants could be asked to label including both the common and scientific names -- and spell correctly. In the herbicide identification event, the students must identify the type of herbicide sprayed by examining which crops and weeds survive and how each plant reacts to the spray. Contestants also have 20 minutes to calibrate a sprayer so it accurately delivers the required volume of spray. In the final event, each student plays the role of a specialist who helps a farmer solve a weed-related problem. Contestants have 20 minutes to listen to the problem and come up with two years' worth of recommendations.

Although winners receive a plaque in honour of their achievement, the most valuable prize may be the possible advantage it provides for those who go on to seek employment in the field.

"I don't know if employers keep a sharp eye on the competition itself," says Tardif, "but I have been told that it looks good on a resume to show that you've done well in the contest."

For more information, contact Prof. Tardif at 519-824-4120, Ext. 3395, or Communications and Public Affairs at 519-824-4120, Ext. 6982.

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