To Dicamba, With Love…Or Without.

dicamba-cupped-leaves-ABUTH
A look at the beginning signs of crop injury by dicamba. Dicamba-based herbicides can kill non-tolerant crops.

What’s been around decades is eating up crops now, and infuriating non-dicamba farmers because of spray drift. Arkansas is having a whole lot of trouble this year with dicamba. The state has received more than 125 complaints of drift or misuse of dicamba herbicides, and just one,

 

Arkansas is having a whole lot of trouble this year with dicamba. The state has received more than 125 complaints of drift or misuse of dicamba herbicides, and just one, Engenia by BASF is allowed for use after April 15th.

The state’s Plant Board tried to enact a temporary ban on dicamba this week but failed. Not because it was voted down, but whether or not an 8-6 vote is enough to pass the ban. Even so, if approved by the Plant Board, the state’s governor must sign off on the ban.

Instead, the Plant Board did agree to place further limits on dicamba use, limiting it to hooded sprayers and requiring a one mile downwind buffer.  They could reconsider the ban as soon as this week.

So what’s the issue? Farmers who have planted dicamba-tolerant crops, soybeans and cotton, are using the herbicide on their fields. Those spray droplets are finding their way elsewhere.

Those droplets, sometimes even sprayed at night, hang in the atmosphere above the plants can mosey over to a neighboring field, and settle in. The problem is, the neighbor did not plant dicamba-tolerant crops. So, the herbicide treats his soybeans like a weed, killing the crop.

Lawsuits have been filed as well, one being dismissed. The latest, Arkansas farmers claim Monsanto and BASF knew their products would harm non-targeted crops but went forward with sales regardless. But of course, everyone knows a herbicide can injure a non-target crop. So the basis of the lawsuit will be interesting to follow.

Solution? Farmers need options and dicamba is likely here to stay. The industry must find a way to spray this herbicide without impacting neighboring fields. Otherwise, more states will follow Arkansas and remove the option from the hands of farmers. A handful of Midwestern states investigated complaints of dicamba drift and misuse last year, and are again this year, along with other soybean growing states watching closely.

 

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