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Farmers get new tools to battle weeds

By Staff | Aug 10, 2013

Farmers get new tools to battle weeds

Project to encourage diversity in managing

ST. LOUIS (USB) – Right now, the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds claims that as many as 143 different species of weeds that stubbornly refuse to succumb to herbicides are growing in the United States. Worse yet, they’re spreading.

These weeds are invading not only neighboring farms, but also the next county, state and even region.

For many U.S. farmers, especially those who haven’t been dealing with herbicide-resistant weeds in their fields already, there’s an opportunity to learn more about the impact of these weeds, as well as other ways to manage them.

According to the results of a recent soy checkoff survey, most U.S. soybean farmers consider herbicide-resistant weeds to be an issue that will have only a minimal effect on their profitability. Additionally, many farmers believe these weeds will require action in the future, but not now.

The checkoff, however, considers herbicide-resistant weeds a major problem that merits immediate attention. In response, it has organized the Take Action program, a collaborative effort to increase farmers’ awareness of the damage these weeds can do, as well as provide some recommended courses of action. The program, in collaboration with 15 land-grant universities and a half-dozen agriculture-technology companies, encourages farmers to develop more diverse weed-management plans to keep these weeds from spreading further.

“We can’t rely on one input or one mode of action to effectively treat these weeds; we’re way past that point,” says Todd Gibson, a United Soybean Board (USB) director and soybean farmer from northwest Missouri. “Managing this issue will require farmers to adapt to new methods in the same way these weeds are adapting to survive our old methods.”

The program encourages farmers to arm themselves with more weapons to wield against weeds, such as crop rotation, residual herbicides and multiple herbicide modes of action. These tools can help farmers manage herbicide-resistant weeds growing in fields already and prevent the development of new herbicide-resistant species. Under the Take Action program, the checkoff and its partners will develop educational materials to increase farmer awareness of the issue.

Other checkoff partnerships offer tools farmers can use to combat these problem plants now, including:

The checkoff sponsors the Plant Management Network (PMN), which produces Web-based videos that provide valuable soybean-production information. These full-length videos, located in PMN’s Focus on Soybean resource, are available for farmers to watch for free for a limited time, while executive-summary videos can be viewed anytime. Click here for all currently available videos, including several that are relevant to farmers’ never-ending battle with weeds.

Farmers can get more information and tips for dealing with herbicide-resistant weeds, as well as other soybean-growing challenges, on the Production page of the USB website.

The checkoff works with land-grant universities and extensions to share research results and other resources with farmers, such as guides on how to identify and manage herbicide-resistant weeds. Contact your local extension agent to see if such materials exist in your state.

The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

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