Getting into the weeds – a summer tradition on the farm
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
As the summer progresses farmers are doing what they always do; sharing with each other how the crops in their fields are doing, talking about commodity prices and monitoring the weather. They are also fighting the annual battle against weeds and their damaging effects on yield come harvest time.
Deciding on what herbicide program to use is among the most important and difficult decisions a grower faces every year. At Bayer, we’re proud of the trust more and more growers are placing in our Liberty/LibertyLink system especially battling those weeds resistant to other technologies.
I’ve worked at Bayer for nearly 20 years and one of the best parts of my job has always been partnering with growers to help sort through what they’re seeing in their fields and finding the right solution for them. This summer, one topic – dicamba – has emerged as a predominant one on many growers’ minds.
Growers, particularly soybean growers in the south and north, are finding plants that appear to be showing symptomology consistent with exposure to dicamba herbicide. Dicamba, of course, is not a new technology. It has been used successfully by growers for decades to manage hard-to-control weeds in a variety of crops and long established use patterns.
There is a lot we don’t know about the current situation, and it’s not my place to speculate about on-going investigations in various states. That said I did want to take a moment to update growers, retail customers, and others on the things we do know about the on-going situation particularly as it relates to Bayer’s Liberty® / LibertyLink® herbicide system.
- Liberty herbicide’s quality is unquestioned
We understand there may be some concern or confusion about the potential for glufosinate-based herbicides like Liberty to be contaminated with dicamba. We can put one thing to rest now: throughout Liberty’s history we have not had one instance of contamination and there are currently no issues or complaints with Liberty-branded herbicide. We have a rigorous quality control process including testing at multiple stages in the production process. In fact, the two main production lines for Liberty 2.5 gallon jugs, totes, and bulk are dedicated solely to Liberty production.
- You can have peace of mind with the Liberty / LibertyLink system
For nearly a decade on millions of acres, Liberty® herbicide used in a herbicide program in LibertyLink® crops has been proven to provide the most effective broad-spectrum control of challenging weeds, including weed species resistant to other herbicides, like waterhemp and palmer pigweed. Growers can have peace of mind when using Liberty.
- Investigations are on-going and we should let them proceed
There is unfortunately much we simply don’t know about the on-going dicamba situation. That obviously isn’t very comforting to growers of various crops and using many different weed control systems who are seeing damage to their fields and are facing uncertainty about what it might mean for their harvest. However, investigations in several states are on-going and they should proceed before attributing blame on any particular cause. We are hopeful that these investigations will determine underlying causes that will not only help growers this season, but in seasons to come. Growers should report any damage they are finding to their local authorities so that the investigations can be as complete as possible.
- Growers are incredibly challenged by resistant weeds and need more options, not less
We know managing weeds, and particularly weeds that have become resistant to certain technologies, is one of the most important challenges growers are facing right now. According to the Weed Science Society of America, uncontrolled weeds could result in the loss of approximately half of corn and soybean yields. One of the most important decisions a grower makes every year is what solutions they will use to manage the weeds they find on their farms and growers are constantly looking for the best solution for their farms. In the end, they need to be able to choose what technology fits best on their farm.
Because of the magnitude of this challenge, growers need more tools to effectively manage weeds, not fewer. In fact, some of the latest research suggests that growers should use two effective sites of action to mitigate against resistance. Bayer has made a major investment in finding new solutions to manage resistant weeds and we are proud of the broad portfolio of herbicides we offer to growers in a variety of crops. But simply finding a new chemical solution won’t be easy and ultimately it won’t be enough. That’s why we’re also focused on working with growers to better understand all facets of Integrated Weed Management and the importance of stewardship.
- Grower choice should be maintained
Grower needs vary from year to year, region to region, and often acre to acre. Choosing a crop, seed variety, crop protection package, and any number of other decisions is complicated and depends on dozens of factors. We believe innovation holds the key to farmers making the most out of their operations and that innovations should be able to co-exist, and compete, in the marketplace to enhance grower choice.
- Stewardship is critical
We have seen the implications of an over reliance on a single technology. It is incumbent on everyone: growers, regulators, and industry, to be good stewards of the technologies we currently have so that they are preserved for the future. For growers this means following label instructions, being conscious of neighbors, and utilizing best management practices. For regulators this means basing decisions on sound science and working with users on how to best use technologies that are right for their farm. For industry this means taking a leadership role in ensuring that technologies can co-exist so that growers can make the choice of technology based on what best meets their farms’ needs. For our part, we continually assess our products to ensure that our labels and our recommendations to growers reflect the most up-to-date science.
We will continue to monitor this situation and will update our growers and other stakeholders as necessary. Growers should feel free to reach out to their local reps or call us at 1-866-99-BAYER with any questions about their fields.