An old saying goes “everything old is new again.” And this couldn’t be truer than in the area of weed control.
The past few years, the number of herbicide-resistant weeds has spread across the country at a frightening pace. At last count, more than two dozen states and 60 million acres of farmland had some form of herbicide-resistant weed present. This, in turn, has forced ag retailers and their grower-customers to re-visit plenty of older crop protection products and methods to combat this growing crop yield menace. Already in the pipeline are cropping systems that are resistant to older products such as dicamba and 2,4-D, which should appear in the market within the next few years. In other cases, tank mixes of glyphosate and other products are becoming much more common among the nation’s custom applicators.
The downside to all weed control “tweaking” is two-fold. First, custom application prices will inevitably increase on a per acre basis as more products and passes are required to combat weeds. Second, the rules for managing spray drift will change as buffer zones potentially become larger and the equipment becomes larger.
Some folks might view these developments as an overall minus on the agriculture stage. However, Joe Gednalske, director of product development for WinField Solutions, sees it as an opportunity for the marketplace to become even more responsible in its practices.
“I think that the next five years will be the most fun in agriculture that we’ve ever seen,” says Gednalske. “But with the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds, this will also spur the development of new crop protection products and control methods, which will lead to more complex timing on application work to correct misses and mistakes. So the effort to limit spray drift will become even more important.”
So here’s to the beginning of the Crop Protection 3.0 era, when everything old becomes new once again!