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Paid Undergraduate Research Opportunity in Agriculture

Posted: February 27, 2017

We are looking for a motivated undergraduate willing to contribute to a project to understand how cover crops suppress weeds in organic systems. This is a great opportunity for hands-on research and learning!

Are you interested in agro-ecology? Intrigued by how plants interact and relate to each other? This may interest you! We are part of a research project called the “Cover Crop Cocktails Project", which is looking at how different cover crops perform at several "ecosystem services" or functions, such as reducing erosion, preventing nitrate leaching or suppressing weeds. And our thing is weeds!

Over the past 3 years, we have observed that oats are a very weed-suppressive cover crop. They do a good job in the fall, but what is more interesting is that oats are also great at suppressing weeds in the spring, even though they die over the winter.

The aim of the project will be to elucidate the mechanism behind weed suppression by oat cover crops in the fall and in the spring. In the fall, we’ll be looking at how quickly oats grow and cover the ground, release of possible allelochemicals and plant-to-plant competition. In spring we will be looking at oat residues to try to understand if weed suppression is caused by the physical cover of the residue, which creates an environment not suitable for weed germination, or if there are certain chemical substances involved (allelochemicals) that are decreasing weed germination and growth.

Timeline: The project will start in spring 2017 and may continue over the summer and into the fall. Or it may be two separate projects, one in the spring-summer 2017 and another in the fall 2017.

Funds: There are currently funds to pay for a student and the materials needed for the experiment from the "Cover Crop Cocktails Project".

If you are interested, contact Barbara Baraibar (weedecologypsu.com/whos-who.html) from the Weed and Applied Plant Ecology lab by e-mailing her at

Submitted by Barbara Baraibar (bub14@psu.edu)