Iowa State University


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bob 2.jpg (39121 bytes) Bob Hartzler

Extension Weed Specialist and
Professor of Agronomy

2104 Agronomy Hall
(515) 294-1923

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My motto at work: It takes more than herbicides to keep a good weed down.

What I do: My appointment is 60% extension, 20% research, and 20% teaching (or something close to that - the actual % fluctuate based on a number of factors I don't fully comprehend).  The major focus of my extension activities is promoting the adoption of integrated weed management programs for corn and soybeans. My approach is to develop within extension clientele an understanding and appreciation of weed biology and ecology.  Hopefully, persons equipped with this knowledge will be better equipped to design holistic weed management systems and recognize the difficulty in relying solely on herbicides for weed control.   The weed science web page has evolved into a primary outlet for disseminating information concerning weed management.   My goal is to place information on the web that would otherwise be unavailable to growers and others involved in weed management. 

My research program focuses on aspects of weed biology that directly impact efficacy of weed management programs.  I am particularly interested in the impact of weed seed rain on future weed populations and effectiveness of control tactics.   This work has led me to discount the concept of economic thresholds due to the 'cost' of weed seed production on future weed problems.   Projects I'm currently involved with include investigating the impact of past management and cultural practices on weed communities found in individual fields.  Specifically, we are trying to determine if the level of reliance on Roundup Ready crops and glyphosate is causing measurable shifts in weed communities.

One of the more 'interesting' projects I worked on  was a survey of common milkweed across Iowa.  Doug Buhler and I decided to conduct this survey after an article appeared in Science expressing concern that the widespread adoption of herbicide resistant crops in the Midwest might impact monarch butterflies by reducing the availability of milkweed.   We decided it would be important to determine how much common milkweed occurred in cropland versus other habitats.   Shortly after we developed our survey protocol the article reporting  the potential for Bt pollen to harm monarchs hit the press, and what we thought was going to be an obscure little study suddenly was of considerable interest to many persons.  We have monitored the populations of common milkweed in approximately 100 fields for the past three years to determine whether changes in weed management practices are influencing the prevalence of milkweed in agronomic fields.

In addition to my research and teaching responsibilities, I began teaching Agronomy 317, Introduction to Weed Science, in 2002.  Teaching undergraduates is a whole lot different than working with extension clients, and I have a lot to learn.  Hopefully I'm not too old a dog to learn new tricks, but I suspect some of my students may look at it that way. 

For those desiring more specific information about my activities, click here.


Where I came from

I’m originally from Ft. Wayne, Indiana (home of the Ft. Wayne Komets, formerly of the International Hockey League), one generation removed from the farm.   The thumbnail at the left is a picture taken in 1932 of my grandfather (on right) and the Sullivan County Extension Agent in a field trial on the family farm (SW Indiana).  So although I grew up selling Converse All Stars at my dad's sporting goods store, at least there is a history of family involvement in agricultural research and extension.  After being influenced by my high school biology teacher and Earth Day in 1970, I enrolled in forestry at Purdue, but eventually ended up in the Plant Protection major (a precursor of IPM).  After completing my B.S., I was employed by a large tree and ornamental care firm in Atlanta, GA.  After two years of spraying trees for non-existent pests, I returned to academia at VPI&SU, earning a M.S. in weed science. From there I moved to ISU to work on a Ph.D. while holding a full-time extension associate position. Upon completing my Ph.D., I took a job as Asst. Professor/ Extension Weed Scientist at Penn State University.  I returned to Iowa State in my current position in 1989.


My motto when I leave work:

Give a man a beer and he wastes an hour...
Teach him to brew and he wastes a lifetime.

For more information contact:
ISU Extension Agronomy
2104 Agronomy Hall
Ames, Iowa 50011-1010
Voice: (515) 294-1923
Fax: (515) 294-9985