May 3, 2017 2:00PM - 3:00PM
Dissertation Proposal Defense
Timothy Robert Silberg
Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017
Room 130, Natural Resources Building
In southern Africa, it is estimated that 63 to 80% of maize yields are lost due to invasive and parasitic weeds. Four out of five nationals rely on farming in Malawi as a primary source of income, many of whom cultivate maize as a monoculture. Due to a number of agricultural policies and institutions, population growth and intensified farming practices have facilitated parasitic weed colonization. One of the most prevalent parasitic weeds in Malawi is known as witchweed or Striga (Striga spp.). A plethora of Striga-control practices have been developed and disseminated to farmers. These technologies are commonly conducted at agricultural experiment stations, where biophysical conditions are controlled and management practices adhere to a strict protocol. When these strategies are later diffused, mixed results often arise under varying agroecological conditions and the limited practices farmers can fulfill. In addition, agrarian populations assume preferential-heterogeneity, each farmer adopting a technology for any number of reasons. Given the vulnerability of Malawi’s primary working sector to Striga, many agree research will need to assess the efficacy of parasitic controls under farmer-conditions and the drivers behind their implementation. To undertake this, the following proposal will use discrete choice experiments, farm trials and crop simulation to parameterize a system dynamics model for purposes of simulating parasitic emergence over time.