Article ID: CBB000830417

War on Weeds: Iowa Farmers and Growth-Regulator Herbicides (2005)


After World War II farmers transformed the Iowa landscape by using newly developed growth regulator herbicides while simultaneously shaping the way herbicides were used. Herbicides met many farmers' goals, including cutting fuel and labor costs of cultivating while boosting yields by reducing weed competition for soil nutrients, light, and moisture. In the 1940s and 1950s, experts advised farmers to only use chemicals to supplement mechanical cultivation, but by the 1960s some farmers reduced or eliminated cultivation. Farmers also contended with unanticipated consequences of herbicide use. Some weeds were resistant to herbicide and proliferated as farmers reduced or eliminated species that were easier to control. Weed control became more expensive and complicated by 1972, with new varieties, combinations, additives, and government regulation. In spite of the expense of herbicides and some undesirable consequences, farmers continued to use them, accepting a new chemical paradigm and altering the Midwestern landscape.

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Authors & Contributors
Grant, H. Roger
Hofsommer, Don L.
Slaton, Amy E.
Thackray, Arnold
Watson, James D.
Myers, Minor, Jr.
Agricultural History
Railroad History
History and Technology
化学史研究 [Kagakushi kenkyū; Journal of the Japanese Society for the History of Chemistry]
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Chemical Heritage Foundation
Stichting Historie der Techniek
Georgetown University
The Johns Hopkins University Press
University of Pennsylvania
Indiana University Press
Chemical technology
Chemical industry
Carver, George Washington
Beckmann, Arnold O.
United States
Iowa (U.S.)
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
20th century, early
21st century
Iowa State College, Ames
Beckmann Instruments Inc.
Badische Anilin- und Soda- Fabrik (B.A.S.F.)

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