Ag News

EPA, herbicide manufacturers reach agreement on dicamba

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with Monsanto, BASF and DuPont on measures to minimize the potential for drift to damage neighboring crops from the use of dicamba formulations used to control weeds in genetically modified cotton and soybeans. The agency announced on Oct. 13 a set of new requirements for the use of dicamba "over the top" (application to growing plants) that will allow farmers to make informed choices for seed purchases for the 2018 growing season.

While other states received complaints that dicamba drift caused damage to nearby crops and responded with stop sale orders of the herbicide within their states, the Georgia Department of Agriculture has received no complaints of damage from dicamba drift. UGA Extension Weed Specialist Stanley Culpepper attributed Georgia’s success in preventing drift to training by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service.

Extension agents and specialists coordinated classroom training sessions to share their research-based results and to help Georgia cotton and soybean producers make wise decisions in safely and effectively implementing this technology. Almost 3,000 participants received the training.

“Understanding the sensitivity of the plants that surround the field when an applicator is ready to make an application is the No. 1 factor that helps us continue to reduce off-target movement of all pesticides,” Culpepper said. “These educational trainings help make applicators and farmers more aware and are a big reason why we haven’t had any complaints to the (Georgia) Department of Agriculture this year.”

Approximately 1.3 million acres in Georgia planted with tolerant cotton or soybeans were treated with auxin herbicides, such as dicamba, during the growing season, according to UGA.

Manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to label changes that impose additional requirements for “over the top” use of these products next year including: classifying products as “restricted use,” permitting only certified applicators with special training, and those under their supervision, to apply them; dicamba-specific training for all certified applicators to reinforce proper use; requiring farmers to maintain specific records regarding the use of these products; limiting applications to when maximum wind speeds are below 10 mph (from 15 mph) to reduce potential spray drift; reducing the times during the day when applications can occur; including tank clean-out language to prevent cross contamination; and enhancing susceptible crop language and record keeping with sensitive crop registries to increase awareness of risk to especially sensitive crops nearby.

Manufacturers have agreed to a process to get the revised labels into the hands of farmers in time for the 2018 use season.