Application Revisited

At the Commodity Classic meeting in Nashville, TN, I got to see an old friend of CropLife® magazine, Dr. Robert Wolf. Dr. Worf has been toiling away for years doing research on the best products and practices for mitigating spray drift.

It’s certainly not the most scintillating topic we cover in the pages of this publication, but articles we’ve run over the years focused on best application practices have always garnered wide readership and appreciation.

So it was really great to see Dr. Wolf getting a lot of attention from major crop protection companies and agriculture media outlets at Commodity Classic. The big driver of this new found popularity is two-fold. The impending release of crops that feature dicamba– and 2,4-D-tolerant traits will lead to a broader use of these stalwart herbicides, which are in the process of getting formulations makeovers. Also, to be frank, the Roundup Ready system in its weed-crunching heyday did not require the level of attention to detail that will be needed when these new biotech traits come to market.

“Applicators have had a real easy way of going about applying products,” said Dr. Wolf. “We just put glyphosate in the tank and go to the field. Now, we’re talking about some new tank mix combinations, premix materials, different compounds and chemistries.” And while we’re at it, there will be more discussions about the speed of travel, the height of the boom above the target, the spray pressure, the selection of nozzles … all the nitty gritty details that the effectiveness of glyphosate allowed to be somewhat compromised are again coming into sharp relief.

BASF, which announced its dicamba reformulation called Engenia at the Commodity Classic, is sponsoring Dr. Wolf’s educational tour called the On Target Application Academy — coming to an ag event near you. He will have his spray table in tow and will be really eager to get the industry’s spraying practices back up to snuff.

The focus of the training is on growers, whose too often conspicuous application of glyphosate is most in need of correction and education. But I think the renewed attention on the need for proper herbicide application bodes well for retailers who provide custom application.

While these hybrids are still a few years from full commercialization, you can see that the complexity of applying herbicides is going to increase. And you can visualize an increasing role as your grower-customers’ partner in weed management.

Look for our old friend Dr. Wolf sometime this summer — he’s ready to lend a hand.

Speaking of old friends, I was saddened to learn of the passing of Scot Sparks, the seed guru at Hintzsche Fertilizer in Maple Park, IL. You never forget who was kind and sharing to you when you first started out a new job. And Scot was all that when I came to him in the late 1990s while trying to figure out the seed market.

Although he was not comfortable at all, he let me take a picture of him in front of some bulk seed bins, for which I’m sure he took some ribbing. He taught me a lot about the good and the bad, the ups and the frustrations, with great patience. I, along with the Hintzsche family, will miss him greatly.
Rest in peace, Scot.

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