Farmers are trained in the use of herbicide blamed for crop damage

MINNEAPOLIS – Tens of thousands of soybean and cotton farmers in the whole country, access is free but mandatory training in the proper use of a pesticide to blame for the urges and damage to crops in adjacent fields.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency requires the training and other restrictions in the last autumn in a deal with three major foreign companies — Monsanto, BASF and DuPont. All three make special formulations of dicamba for use on the new soybean and cotton varieties genetically engineered to resist the herbicide, seed technology marketed by Monsanto. The products are becoming increasingly popular because they are farmers a new weapon in the fight against aggressive weeds such as pigweed that have become resistant to other herbicides, such as glyphosate, also known as Roundup.

Farmers have used dicamba on a smaller scale for decades. The tendency to evaporate and drift led the three companies for the development of less-volatile formulations for dicamba-tolerant crops, which came into general use last year. But the farmers who planted the older, non-resistant varieties, and do not make use of dicamba soon began reporting damage to their crops and the debt of the farms in the area, though.

“It takes attention and time to learn to use a new product. … Training and education is critical,” said Scott ridge, Monsanto’s vice president for global strategy.

The in-person trainings are kicking into gear this month and in March. Monsanto is convinced that the training will greatly reduce drift problems this season, ridge said. In 91 percent of the “off-target applications” last season were a result of farmers not following the instructions on the label, ” he said. In Georgia, where the training was mandatory, he said, the state received no complaints of dicamba drift last year.

Monsanto was the first of a number of sessions in Minnesota on Monday. The company expects to hold a few thousand nationwide eventually, said ridge. BASF and DuPont are similar pushes around the farm country. The manufacturers are conducting the sessions in 26 states, while the government in seven other similar courses.

The training covers everything from choosing the right nozzles, spray heights, the correct pressure, spray system speeds, wind speeds and other weather conditions, and best practices for the cleaning of equipment. They last for about 1½ hours, but he said that it is sufficient to drive home the main points because Monsanto also offers a technical support service, phone number and other tools. For farmers who do not have the correct nozzles, Monsanto plans to hand out more than 1 million free. It will also roll out a smartphone app to give farmers real-time weather conditions on their fields.

Nearly 26 million acres were planted in dicamba-tolerant varieties last year, including more than 20 million acres of soybeans. Monsanto expects that the number of dicamba-tolerant soybean acres will likely double this year, ridge said, based on the demand of the company is to see of the growers. Tests by both Monsanto and independent academic researchers show a 5.7 tons per hectare yield increase in comparison with other popular weed control system for soybeans, ” he said.

“We are excited about and want to do everything we can to ensure that people have the best experience possible in 2018,” said ridge.

The new federal restrictions, which created dicamba a “limited use of pesticides,” to limit its use to days when the wind is under 10 km / h and new record-keeping requirements. But some countries have imposed additional restrictions.

Arkansas had the most crop-damage complaints in the country last year at nearly 1,000, and took the strictest rules. The state prohibited dicamba in most cases, from 16 April-Oct. 31, which essentially rules out the use of soybeans. Monsanto has sued to block that ban becomes effective. Minnesota, which received 253 complaints, a June 20 deadline and uses prohibited on the days that the temperature is above 85 degrees. North Dakota cuts off applications on 30 June or the crop the first flowering phase, whichever comes first.

Mike Petefish, who farms around the 5,000 acres near Claremont in Dodge County in the south of Minnesota, said he expects the courses to be popular. Farmers generally accept the new restrictions, he said.

“I know that farmers are really concerned about keeping the product,” said Petefish, also president of the Minnesota Soybean growers association. “I know that for some who are in serious herbicide resistance issues with weeds, there is not really a different product.”

Gregg Regimbal, pesticide manager with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, said the training material “certainly looks solid.” The training is offered in a state, will be accepted in the other states that allow the companies to perform, ” he said.

Monsanto and other manufacturers are being sued by farmers who say their crops were damaged by the herbicide last year. Many of those cases are consolidated in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri. An Arkansas jury in December convicted a man of second-degree murder in the shooting of a farmer, who accused him of the use of dicamba and damage to his crops.

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