Herbicide Task Force Stresses Education for Weed Control, Crop Protection

By Randy LaBauve, LSU AgCenter

Photo by "This Week in Louisiana Agriculture"

Photo by "This Week in Louisiana Agriculture"

BATON ROUGE, La. — A Louisiana task force for new herbicide technology recently met to discuss upcoming weed control technologies for crops. The group consists primarily of weed scientists and crop specialists with the LSU AgCenter, pesticide specialists at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, crop consultants with the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association and commercial pesticide applicators.

Their collaborative efforts are designed to educate farmers and applicators with objective, up-to-date information about new herbicide technologies. 

“This is important for creating awareness,” said Rogers Leonard, LSU AgCenter associate vice president and program leader for plants, soils and ag water resources. “We know there are issues with new herbicides, so we’re establishing communications at the highest levels, and then filtering it down to the applicators.”

For the past two years, concerns with off-target movement of auxin (2,4-D and dicamba) herbicides have gained national attention. The task force, created in response to the upcoming introduction of weed control technologies based on these herbicides, was started in 2015 to educate applicators about issues such as weed resistance and potential drift. 

The new herbicide technologies allow 2,4-D or dicamba to be sprayed over the top of selected crops, such as cotton and soybeans for weed management, much like Roundup Ready systems. These are critically important for producers with weed resistance issues, said Leonard.

During the spring, the task force discussed ways to better educate farmers on use of these latest herbicide systems.

LSU AgCenter weed scientists, in agreement with LDAF, decided not to include the technologies in the AgCenter 2017 Weed Management Guide but supported planting the crops so farmers could gain experience and evaluate yield potential of new cultivars, Leonard said. 

“They did not have sufficient information to show whether or not the technologies were effective and safe to non-target areas,” he said.


AgCenter research has shown soybeans, and other crops without dicamba resistance, are extremely sensitive to dicamba off-target movement. Glyphosate products can also pose a risk to non-target crops, according to AgCenter findings.

That’s why the task force committed itself to stepping up efforts to educate farmers and applicators to become more vigilant with stewardship. Some of the important points discussed at the meeting were:

—Thoroughly cleaning tanks according to specifications or using only dedicated tanks for specific

pesticides to prevent contamination of non-target crops.
 

—Carefully following product label directions for pesticide applications.

—Recognizing the potential of high winds that may cause the product to drift.

—Being aware of temperature inversions which could facilitate off-target movement and not spraying at

those times.
 

—Using only approved nozzles and proper application rates.

“Collaboration is the only way to make this work,” said Kim Pope Brown, LSU AgCenter pesticide safety education coordinator and co-chair of the task force. “We have to make sure agriculture is on target, protecting human health and the environment.”

Participants in the task force were able to hear updates from representatives of Dow, Monsanto and BASF about their latest herbicide control systems. 

Dow ‘s newest technology is the Enlist One control system, using 2,4-D with choline, while Monsanto’s latest introduction is Xtendimax, a dicamba weed control system. BASF highlighted its’ dicamba-based herbicide called Engenia.

Even though Xtendimax and Engenia have been in use since 2017 and Enlist One is slated for potential introduction into the 2018 market, the AgCenter has not made any recommendations on these herbicide systems for the upcoming year, according to Leonard.

“We will continue to educate farmers on the best weed management systems for Louisiana, integrating new technologies, where needed, with older chemistry,” Leonard said.

“In 2017, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry required companies producing these new herbicides to provide stewardship training, and we hope this will continue in 2018.”