There were 18 reported cases of dicamba drift in Canada in 2016, based on data from Bayer.
By 2019, that number dropped to nine.
“The number of known off-target incidences has continued to decline steadily since 2016,” Bayer Canada said in an email.
Related story: Dicamba drift not a major problem in Canada
“In that period of time, Roundup Ready Xtend Crop system acres increased from a few thousand seed-production acres to almost two million acres in 2019. We believe the vast majority of growers and applicators using XtendiMax (dicamba herbicide) have had great success with on-target applications.”
Bayer and all pesticide companies must report off target incidents to Health Canada. The number of dicamba drift incidents have declined partly because Bayer has educated growers about proper use of the herbicide.
“This program has trained thousands of growers, retailers, and custom applicators across Canada over the last number of years,” Bayer said.
In the United States and Canada, dicamba drift often affects nearby soybean fields. In 2019, a much higher percentage of soybeans had the Xtend trait, so even if drift occurred, dicamba wouldn’t damage an adjacent field if the soybeans were tolerant of dicamba.
The number of official complaints doesn’t tell the whole story. There are cases where neighbours resolve a drift problem and the incident isn’t reported.
“(The numbers) certainly wouldn’t capture every instance of their being dicamba drift in Ontario,” said Mike Cowbrough, weed specialist with Ontario’s agriculture ministry.
“Are there examples … of situations that haven’t been good? The answer to that is yes. I think they are relatively small. The official numbers that are reported, my gut feel would be it’s less than what actually happens.”
In response, Bayer said producer education has been working.
“Based on the inquires we have received to date, we are pleased with the stewardship and proper use shown by farmers using the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop system…. We encourage anyone experiencing issues related to dicamba off-target movement to contact us at 1-888-283-6847.”