New Website Promotes Simpson’s Palmer Amaranth Project

Simpson’s Palmer amaranth project has gone mobile.

A new website, created by two Simpson students, will allow farmers, agronomists and anyone else who is interested to call up their location on an Iowa map and discover the degree of risk Palmer amaranth poses to their land.

They also will be able to keep pace with research developments.

Palmer amaranth is a noxious weed, resistant to herbicide, that has overtaken crops in some southeastern states. The weed has been identified in Iowa, and one of the Simpson project’s goals is to tell Iowans what they can do to help curtail it.

The Palmer Project website –  www.simpsonpalmer.com– is a tool to help producers assess their risk in order to be proactive in their weed management plans.

Credit for the website goes to senior Drew Roen, a computer science and math double major from Dubuque, and Kyle Hovey, who graduated in May. Hovey had some experience building websites; Roen had none.

“It was a big learning experience for both of us,” Roen said. “We basically started from scratch and we were able to create this website that allowed us to pick from the data that we had and show it to producers – anyone who’s interested really.”

This is the second year Roen has worked on the project. He, seven other students and two faculty members worked all summer continuing their research on Palmer amaranth.

Before the website was created, the Simpson students basically informed producers by going to see them.

“That’s still important, because we need to make sure everyone is on the same page that Palmer amaranth is a bad thing,” Roen said.

The project has received a boost from the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA). Simpson students recently presented their findings to the organization’s On-Farm Network research group in Ankeny. In February, they presented their project at the ISA farmer research conference in Des Moines.

“They obviously liked what we were doing,” said John Pauley, professor of philosophy. He and Clint Meyer, associate professor of biology, are the Simpson faculty members directing the research.

ISA is sharing the students’ work with its members, which Pauley applauded.

“All producers in the state of Iowa have some connection to the Iowa Soybean Association,” he said. “They just network with everybody.”

Pauley said the student researchers are now studying how well, or poorly, herbicides work to curtail noxious weeds in addition to Palmer amaranth, including marestail, giant ragweed and waterhemp.

“You can’t just spray the same herbicide on it the same weed for years,” Roen said.

Roen said creating the website has provided him with a new skill set.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said of the Palmer Project. “I’ve really enjoyed these last two years. It’s great to have my input valued. Kyle and I had to learn everything ourselves, and that also made it much more valuable. That’s a skill I can use the rest of my life.”