Don’t weed worry, be happy, help’s on the way

Farmers need not worry about insurmountable herbicide-resistant weeds because science and the chemical industry will always pull through with a new mode of action before the farm goes under.

That’s a prevalent attitude, said Bayer agronomist Adam Pfeffer in an interview. He said farmers know how to lower the risk of weeds, disease and even insects. But it takes more intensive management and it’s easier to let the local agrologist order up the right herbicide cocktail to deal with the problem. Weaning oneself off chemical dependence can be difficult.

“Part of the belief throughout the whole agricultural industry is that chemical companies and big ag will develop the next solution we need. Every company is bringing new crop protection technologies to the market, but we’re all on the treadmill.

“By the time a new crop protection product gets to market, it might already be burned out and obsolete. The problem has evolved and moved on to the degree that the new solution has lost its efficacy.”

A recent statement from Bayer stated that some soybeans growers still rely on glyphosate exclusively for their spring burndown, even though this practice may leave their fields vulnerable to resistance.

“There are quite a few growers who still use Roundup only,” says Pfeffer.

“It’s hard to move off the Easy Button. Until they have a resistance problem, then they listen. It takes two or three seasons of resistant weeds before it’s noticeable enough to take action. Of course, then it’s much more complex and difficult to deal with.

“The typical pattern is a small handful of escapes the first year, and you may not even notice them. Second year there’s a patch, but not too big, so you just combine through it. Then the third year, the weed is all over.”

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