Archive for the ‘Herbicides’ Category


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Solving the weed problem: Farmers use multipronged approach to fight pests’ herbicide resistance

With “bulletproof” weeds like palmer amaranth and kochia becoming ever more resistant across the Great Plains, farmers must focus on rotating modes of action, using pre-emergent herbicides and following the label when mixing products, experts say.

For 25 years, kochia and other weeds were successfully controlled by glyphosate, a broad-spectrum herbicide initially sold under the brand name Roundup. Now, these weeds are showing resistance to the herbicide in fields from Texas to Canada, according to Kansas State University.

“We were in the honeymoon period of weed control in the late 1990s and early 2000s when glyphosate was working,” said K-State weed scientist Curtis Thompson.


Some farmers are pulling out the tillage equipment, said Thompson. But if they can, there are more advantages to sticking with a no-till system.

Research conducted by Dr. Alan Schlegel at K-State Southwest Research and Extension Center at Tribune shows 13-year average yields of wheat/sorghum/fallow benefit from a straight no-till system, Thompson said. The research compares three systems: conventional, reduced tillage (ground is only tilled as needed between sorghum harvest and wheat planting), and complete no-till. Sorghum hybrid, soil fertility and in-crop weed control remain the same in all three systems.

The results: the 13-year average yield of wheat that was conventional – 13 bushels an acre; reduced tillage – 16 bushels an acre; and no-till – 21 bushels an acre. The 13-year average yield for sorghum was: conventional – 18 bushels an acre; reduced till – 30 bushels an acre; and no-till – 58 bushels an acre.

“I do think it is going to require a higher level of management in all phases of crop production,” he said of sticking with no-till. “I think it can be done.”

“Timeliness of effective herbicide applications is key so successful control,” he added. “It may mean that we apply herbicides in late fall or in January or February to control a severe kochia population, or perhaps fall applications to manage marestail.”

Crop rotation is also a key component, which allows the use of multiple modes of action of herbicides and different timings of application based on the crop planted, Thompson said.

“We aren’t ready to throw out the no-till technology and go back to the moldboard plow,” he said.

Pre-emergent herbicides

Terry Faurot, a Scott County farmer and chemical applicator, said his business has been busier due to the growing resistant-weed problem – and he’s busier earlier in the season.

“Farmers are jumping in early,” he said. “In the January to March range, I’m putting on pre-emergents.”

He advises farmers to follow a course of action that catches the weeds before they come out of the ground.

“What farmers are doing, they are coming in February and March and putting something like Dicamba and Atrazine, and creating a barrier. So, when the ground warms, it blocks (the weeds).”

Then, he said, as the herbicide wears out and it gets closer to planting, farmers can come back with another pre-emergent herbicide.

“The whole thing is to keep it from seeding out,” he said. “The biggest thing is to not let those weeds go to seed.”

Killing a growing weed crop

If kochia does emerge, don’t wait until the weeds are tall to try to kill it, he said. “Then they are really hard to kill.”

The best time to kill growing kochia is when it’s between 3 and 8 inches in height. Once it gets too tall, the stem gets woody and the plant won’t take in the chemical.

For palmer amaranth – or any weed – the earlier farmers catch them, the better.

Other modes of action

Faurot also recommends that farmers change up their mode of action.

“I usually spray with three modes of action to attack weeds,” he said, adding many farmers use a combination of 2,4-D, Dicamba and glyphosate.

But there are others. For instance, mixing atrazine and paraquat is a good combination for controlling weeds in the fall. Paraquat is a potent chemical and it defoliates the plant, Faurot said.

“I wouldn’t go with the same stuff all the time,” he said.

He also recommends mixing in ammonium sulfate to the tank mix, as well as surfactant, an additive that will help farmers get better coverage.

Also, don’t cut back on chemical. Follow the label. Once you damage the weed, it becomes even tougher to kill.

“You just can’t skimp on chemicals,” Faurot said. “You have to kill those weeds the first time around. If you damage it, you won’t kill it the second time around.”

Sometimes it is better to invest in more expensive chemical, he said.

“Sometimes it it is cheaper to put on the expensive stuff the first time than come in and do a rescue treatment later,” he said.

What other producers are doing

In Reno County, farmer Jud Hornbaker is using different mixes of chemicals to combat weeds. That includes the herbicide Sharpen for pre-plant burndown. For post emergence, he uses Anthem and Roundup.

Next year he will have Liberty in the tank mix, another post-emergent herbicide. He also uses Warrant, 2,4-D and Dicamba. He uses about 17 to 20 gallons of water an acre.

“The main thing is to get the weeds small, not wait until they are 3 feet high,” he said.

McPherson County farmer Monte Dossett also has several different modes of action to combat Palmer amaranth pigweed, including pre-emergent herbicide Authority and Zidua.

He has also used Fierce and Warrant. The chemicals work best when he can maintain soil moisture. The water in the soil helps make them work.

He applies a pre-emergent a month before planting and right after planting – along with Roundup once the plants emerge.

Some chemicals have gone up considerably, Dossett said.

“Before the weed resistance, I’d do one pre-emergent, and a lot of people wouldn’t do any,” he said.

Kansas Agland Editor Amy Bickel’s agriculture roots started in Gypsum. She has been covering Kansas agriculture for more than 15 years. Email her with news, photos and other information at abickel@hutchnews.com or by calling (800) 766-3311 Ext. 320.



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Farmers Weekly


Adam Clarke
Tuesday 7 April 2015 14:27

Poppies in barley© Tim Scrivener

There is evidence to suggest that broad-leaved weeds are becoming more difficult to control, but the true extent of herbicide resistance in the UK is currently unknown.

To try and uncover how widespread the problem is, advisory body Adas is conducting a survey and invites growers and advisers to share their experiences.

Adas weed specialist Lynn Tatnell says that much of the evidence that resistance is on the rise is anecdotal and in many cases hasn’t been confirmed by seed testing.

“It might be the case that it isn’t as widespread as people fear, but we need a better understanding of the situation in the field.

“To do that, we need to reach out to as many people as possible who have to control broad-leaved weeds in their rotation – arable or otherwise,” says Mrs Tatnell.

Practical advice
Adas’s James Clarke adds that without gaining a better picture of how easy or difficult certain species of broad-leaved weeds are to control, it will be difficult to provide best practice advice to growers in the future.

At present, herbicide resistance is confirmed in mayweed, chickweed and poppy, but there may be more resistant species out there as many growers rely on a single ALS-inhibiting mode of action to control broad-leaved weeds.

“We need to hear from those that aren’t having a problem, as well as those that are.

“In the second phase of the survey we would like to investigate any problems further on the respondent’s farm and confirm whether it is herbicide resistance or there are other factors involved,” explains Mr Clarke.

By taking part in the short survey, you could give yourself a chance of winning one of 25 bottles of malt whisky.

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BioProdex, Inc., a spinoff enterprise based on research from the University of Florida-IFAS, Gainesville, has made history by developing and registering the world’s first biological herbicide containing a plant virus as the active ingredient. Named SolviNix LC, the bioherbicide is a novel, groundbreaking product signifying a new paradigm in herbicides. The active ingredient in SolviNix is a naturally occurring virus called the Tobacco mild green mosaic virus strain U2 and it is registered for the control of tropical soda apple, an invasive weed in the southeastern United States.

The weed-killing ability of this virus was discovered and patented by Dr. R. “Charu” Charudattan, Dr. Ernest Hiebert, and associates in the Department of Plant Pathology, UF-IFAS. BioProdex, Inc. licensed this technology from the University of Florida Research Foundation, developed an industrial process to mass-produce the virus, assembled safety and efficacy data based on extensive research and testing, and successfully registered the bioherbicide with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under FIFRA Section 3.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) enabled BioProdex to develop the mass production technology. The IR-4 Biopesticide and Organic Support Program, Princeton, NJ undertook and steered the registration effort for BioProdex.

For further information, please visit www.bioprodex.com.

Best regards,
Raghavan Charudattan, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor, Univ. Florida-Plant Pathology Dept.
Gainesville, FL 32611-0680
TEL: 352-278-1572
FAX: 352-872-5035

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Created by fintrac-admin on Mar 12, 2014 4:36 PM, last modified by community.manager on Mar 12, 2014 4:59 PM

Striga, commonly known as witchweed, is a parasitic plant that requires a living host for germination and early development. Maize, the staple food for the majority of East Africans, is particularly susceptible to Striga, which continuous cereal monocropping has intensified. Severe Striga infestations can cause between 20 and 80 percent crop loss, causing farmers to abandon land with heavy Striga infestation. StrigAway™ – an IR-maize technology package – is comprised of conventionally bred herbicide resistant maize varieties and Imazapyr seed treatment, an herbicide seed coating. With a grant from Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, The African Agricultural Technology Foundation is working with partners including BASF, CIMMYT, and six seed companies to bring StrigAway to more than 20,000 smallholders in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, where Striga affects approximately 1.4 million hectares of land. To accomplish this, they are providing technical support for local seed companies to ensure that the seed is properly treated and made widely available for purchase.


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Considering the inevitability of a growing population, cost-efficient food production must increase; with effective policies, proper regulation, and safety training, pesticide use will continue to play an important role in that food production. (Photo from happykanppy/Shutterstock.)


Posted by dhamilton in Technologies on Nov 17, 2014 11:52:00 AM

Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa.

All agree that the world needs a safe, plentiful supply of food, and most acknowledge that global demand will grow along with the expanding population. This peer-reviewed report looks at how pesticides fit into this equation. After a data-driven examination of past developments and current uses, the authors conclude that a safe, thoughtful integration of pesticides is essential if we hope to attain an abundant food supply for a hungry world.

The term “pesticides” has been around for centuries, and it describes many different chemicals. The term has also–at times–been maligned and misunderstood. The authors of this publication use extensive data and provide clear examples to explain that pesticide use in agriculture has:

– increased crop yield and quality,

– lessened the workload of pest management, and

– improved the prospects for long-term sustainable food production.

This paper gives a brief background about the use of pesticides and then a thorough look at why they have become popular and widely used. Intelligent use of pesticides has led to crop management that is more efficient, sustainable, and productive. For example, the authors produce evidence that fungicide use has helped stem the curse of soybean rust, aided with the prevention of fusarium head blight in wheat, and increased farmer income.

Along with better pest management, pesticides have helped with the development of improved agronomic practices such as no till, low till, higher plant densities, increased yields, and efficient use of water and nutrients. The authors point out that in comparison to hand weeding, herbicide use is less expensive and more effective. “By substituting for cultivation, herbicide use leads to lower fuel use, less carbon emissions, less soil erosion, and less water use.”

Of course there are controversies and challenges. The authors indicate that concerns exist regarding water, soil, and atmospheric resources, as well as the need for safety during application and food processing. Regulations, testing, worker training, and other safeguards are factors that mitigate unwanted effects.

More than 800 million people in the world are food insecure, and the amount of crop yield lost each year to pests could run upwards of 30%. But many experts are optimistic about developments involving safe, efficient production methods occurring around the globe. When pesticides are effectively applied and integrated into a comprehensive approach, the world is better able to provide food for the 9 billion humans on earth in 2050.

Task Force Authors:

Stephen C. Weller (Chair), Purdue University

Albert K. Culbreath, University of Georgia

Leonard Gianessi, CropLife Foundation

Larry D. Godfrey, University of California-Davis

See entire article at: http://www.cast-science.org/download.cfm?PublicationID=283018&File=10308addd8ca42e36d835a6f703631805525TR

CAST Issue Paper 55 and its companion Ag quickCAST are available online at the CAST website, www.cast-science.org  along with many of CAST’s other scientific publications. All CAST Issue Papers, Commentaries, and Ag quickCASTs are FREE.

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By Nathanael Johnson on 24 Nov 2014 8:08 am




Why aren’t agroecological techniques farming spreading faster among poor farmers? If you are a farmer in the rural part of an undeveloped country, where it’s hard to get synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, and genetically modified seeds, it only makes sense to turn to a form of agriculture that eschews those things. Instead of requiring technological inputs, agroecology and organic farming require skills — which are free and non-proprietary. Organic farming also builds up the organic matter in the soil, which helps it catch and hold moisture; that’s especially important in semi-arid lands without irrigation infrastructure.

So why don’t we see organic production raising developing rural areas out of poverty? I’ve seen two possible explanations: Big Agribusiness is sabotaging the nascent growth, or farmers aren’t getting the training they need.

I see the first explanation all the time, but I don’t see evidence. It’s easy to pin the blame on some bogeyman, but doing so is almost always the product of sloppy thinking. Cirocco Dunlap parodied this ploy perfectly in an ode to the too-good-to-be-true effects of coconut oil:

After saving my own life, I wanted to save someone else’s. So I stopped at a nearby children’s hospital and cured every child with a dropperful of coconut oil. It was so nice and so easy; I’m confused why people don’t do this more often. Probably because of Monsanto.

The second explanation, that there’s not enough education, seems more likely. Farming knowledge is location-dependent, and it takes time to pass it on. With a salable product, by contrast, the profit motive alone can drive adoption around the world. You can buy a Coke, for instance, just about anywhere in the world that a few people live together.

The combination of these two explanations is also plausible: It’s not that agribusiness is out there setting fire to organic crops, but Big Ag corporations are actively working with charities and aid organizations. That means they can influence the direction that education, and each nation’s agricultural policy, takes.

Of course, there’s one other possibility: It could be that organic methods just aren’t working for poor farmers.

A pragmatic take from Tanzania
It’s been hard for me to figure out exactly what’s going on here, so I was intensely intrigued by a paper titled “Facing food insecurity in Africa: Why, after 30 years of work in organic agriculture, I am promoting the use of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides in small-scale crop production.”

The paper is by Don Lotter, a strong critic of genetic engineering with a PhD in agroecology who teaches conservation agriculture at St. John’s University of Tanzania. It’s a nuanced and valuable piece from someone driven by the facts on the ground rather than by ideology.

The problem, Lotter wrote, cannot be pinned on lack of education alone:

[A]n organic version of CA [conservation ag] (no herbicide or synthetic fertilizers) has failed to be adopted by the majority of African farmers subject to years of promotion and trials … The most recent report from Tanzania showed only 13 percent of targeted farmers adopting the practice after several years of promotion.

This squares with something I learned from talking with Keira Butler about 4-H in Ghana. 4-H teaches kids all kinds of exciting agroecological techniques, but the adults don’t use those techniques — they use chemicals. I asked:

Is that because they don’t have access to those natural techniques, or they are benighted? Or is it because they are like, this just doesn’t work, if I want to make a decent living?

A. They are like, this just doesn’t work.

It’s simply more time- and cost-effective to use herbicide, for example, she said.

There’s a hint of frustration in Lotter’s writing when he touches on the continued emphasis on techniques that don’t work for farmers in Africa, especially when it is justified with pseudoscience. For a while he managed an organic farm in a part of northern Tanzania that attracted lots of foreign volunteers. Corn in the area suffered nitrogen deficiency because farmers refused synthetic fertilizer.

These farmers had been told by foreign volunteers, nearly all of them untrained in agriculture, that fertilizers “poison” the soil—despite the fact that it is very likely that 99% of the calories that these amply-fed volunteers had consumed in their lives were from crops amply fed with synthetic fertilizers, grown in fields that are to this day still highly productive.

Lotter says that soils fertilized with synthetic nitrogen aren’t as healthy and microbially rich as those fertilized with compost and manure, but they are by no means toxic. The same goes for the herbicide glyphosate (the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup — though Monsanto’s patent expired in 2000, and now many companies produce the weedkiller). Some people are worried about the potential health effects of glyphosate, but these concerns are tiny compared to the real and undisputed dangers of soil loss and hunger.

Life expectancy here in the central region is about 45 years — these people hardly get the opportunity to get cancer, largely because of food insecurity.

Lotter works in the Dodoma region of Tanzania, where population has quadrupled since the 1960s. People there are farming more land, in marginal areas like mountainsides. Instead of allowing fields to lie fallow, farmers must plant every year, which means plowing every year. All this has led to massive erosion, which makes the land less productive and speeds the cycle. Lotter warns that Africa in the next few decades could go the erosion-crippled way of Haiti.

Using a herbicide allows farmers to vastly reduce the amount they plow. This allows the root-structures to remain in the ground, holding the soil and preventing erosion. Eventually the plant residues rot, turning into organic matter, which increases the fertility and water-holding capacity of the fields.

The scarce rainfall here commonly comes in intense events, often with just a few rainstorms providing most of the water for the entire season. Anchored plant residues on the soil surface and a higher soil OM [organic matter] content are crucial to capturing and holding this water.

Farmers using zero-tillage techniques (i.e. without plowing) in Malawi quickly tripled their profits, Lotter wrote.

Corn and fertilizer
Millet and sorghum are the traditional African grain staples. But, Lotter says, there’s a reason the vast majority of farmers in central Tanzania grow corn instead. New research suggests that farmers get a lot more food from corn (maize):

The research showed that even in drought years, with or without fertilizer, maize substantially outyields millet and sorghum, by an average of about 50 percent, even when bird damage is controlled in the latter two. Adding to this is the problem of Quelea birds (Quelea quelea L.) which can devour entire millet and sorghum crops but cannot touch maize.

Corn is incredibly responsive to fertilizer; it’s hard to grow corn to its optimum without bringing in some form of nitrogen. It’s possible to nearly satisfy corn with agroforestry — growing rows of nitrogen-fixing trees in the fields, and using their leaves as green manure. The problem is that farmers have to water and tend the trees for five years before they start to see real benefits.

Farmers can see an immediate benefit from synthetic fertilizer, but it has problems, too. Even if farmers have the money or credit to buy fertilizer, it’s often simply unavailable in their area. Agroforestry poses similar challenges: Farmers need access to the tree seedlings, and have to pay for them.

The takeaway
Lotter winds up with a frank but grim assessment. He notes that aid agencies have failed for the past 50 years to enrich subsistence farmers in Africa.

I’m not sure what will work. Social unrest and religious-political extremism are ominous possibilities.

There are hurdles no matter which way you turn, but the option to use synthetic fertilizer and herbicide could allow some farmers to shift from a destructive cycle, and into a virtuous cycle, enriching themselves and the land.

The only route I see out of African food insecurity in the next decade is via sustainable intensification — the use of both agrichemicals and organic methods together. My change from working exclusively with organic methods to the inclusion of conventional agrichemicals in Africa is, I believe, not a change in my values. The well-being of people and the environment are still at the center of my ethos, with the proviso that the long-term care of the environment enhances human well-being.

There are no easy answers here. Of course, it’s not like this is the only paper ever published on small farmers in Africa. There’s a study showing the success of just about anything, from cover crops to GM seeds, and oftentimes there’s another study showing its failure. But there’s special value in a paper like this from someone like Lotter — someone familiar with this entire literature, someone ground-truthing the claims every day. That makes his case against an all-organic program for small farmers in Africa all the more persuasive.

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