(BPT) - Farmers in the U.S. understand that many factors must come together for a successful growing season. From the right balance of rain and sun to planting at optimum times and controlling weed growth, farmers do their best to plan around uncertainties and use the technologies available to handle new challenges each season. However, if one of their essential tools is taken out of the equation, it can devastate an entire harvest.
The crops that farmers grow feed the world, but there are other green plants growing in their fields that do the opposite: weeds. Broadleaf weeds can be particularly difficult to manage, as they overtake fields and choke out healthy plants. About 38 states in the U.S. now also have at least one species of weeds that has resistance to common herbicides.
For soybean and cotton farmers, this issue directly threatens their livelihood as nutrients are drained from the land by invasive weeds. This not only impacts farmers' ability to run a sustainable business, but it can have consequences for a safe and affordable food supply.
A big problem that is only getting worse
Weeds have always been an issue for growers, but one of the biggest problems for the modern farmer is that weed species are evolving. Broadleaf weeds are becoming more herbicide-resistant, which means that farmers need more efficient tools and new innovations to control and protect their fields.
One tool that's helped farmers manage these weeds is dicamba, an over-the-top weed control product that is effective on certain herbicide-resistant weeds, like pigweed and Palmer amaranth. Dicamba has been used on fields for over thirty years, across multiple generations of farmers, and has evolved into different formulations to control resistant weeds. For dicamba-based product Engenia herbicide, which is effective on more than 200 broadleaf weeds, its future is currently with the U.S. EPA to review and determine its registration for the 2021 growing season.
Prior to the availability of dicamba-tolerant soybean and cotton seed varieties, growers reported a minimum 50% yield loss in fields with resistant pigweed, as just one example. Without dicamba-based products, farmers would be estimated to lose up to $10 billion and $800 million in soybean and cotton yields alone, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service and the National Cotton Council.
The U.S. EPA approval of dicamba is an important decision that is weighing heavy on farmers' minds. Many have already been forced to make decisions and investments in seed trait systems, herbicides and application tools for the next growing season. A disruption in their access to post-emergent tools like dicamba would be devastating to their yield and their business.
Finding a solution for the farmer and Mother Nature
The heart of a farmer resides in the health of the land. Finding strategies that work for the modern grower can be a challenge, especially as new problems emerge such as herbicide-resistant weeds.
Dicamba is not a new treatment; farmers have used dicamba for the last 50 years. Over-the-top formulations of dicamba are designed to work with specific herbicide-tolerant crops and control specific weeds and, when applied correctly, can help a farmer have a better growing season with minimal passes in the field. Farmers and applicators also complete annual training to ensure correct application of the product, in line with its current label, as good stewards of the land helping to preserve the value of the technology for the next generation.
Many farmers have a lasting legacy and connection to the land that goes back generations. They depend on healthy fields for a bright future and to feed a growing population, while relying on products that support their efforts for a successful growing season. To learn more, visit agriculture.basf.us.