Farmers Taking Free But Mandatory Dicamba Training

Associated Press writer Steve Karnowski reported recently that, “Tens of thousands of soybean and cotton farmers across the country are taking free but mandatory training in how to properly use a weed killer blamed for drifting and damaging crops in neighboring fields.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required the training and other restrictions last fall in a deal with three major agribusiness companies — Monsanto, BASF and DuPont. All three make special formulations of dicamba for use on new soybean and cotton varieties that are genetically engineered to resist the herbicide, using seed technology commercialized by Monsanto. The products are increasingly popular because they give farmers a new weapon 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. Its tendency to vaporize and drift led the three companies to develop less-volatile formulations for dicamba-tolerant crops, which came into widespread use last year. But farmers who planted older, non-resistant varieties and didn’t use dicamba soon began reporting damage to their crops and blamed nearby farms that did use it.”

The AP article stated that, “The in-person training sessions are kicking into high gear this month and in March. Monsanto is confident that the training will sharply reduce drift problems this season, [Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president for global strategy] said. Over 91 percent of ‘off-target applications’ last season were a result of farmers not following the label instructions, he said. In Georgia, where training was already mandatory, he said, the state received no complaints of dicamba drift last year.”

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