Herbicide Systems 2.0: Life Beyond Dicamba

Dicamba-Resistant Soybean

Dicamba has enjoyed a long and productive life in the weed control world. Velsicol Chemical Co. introduced dicamba under the brand name “Banvel” back in 1967, and it has been a reliable weapon in the arsenal of retailers for the past 45 years.

Now, dicamba is being prepared to take center stage in the next battle against Glyphosate-resistant weeds that have significantly compromised the effectiveness of the standard Roundup Ready System. An entirely new program featuring a new trait and a dicamba formulation “face lift” is being prepared that will provide a new weed control option for your growers.

According to BASF, dicamba is the fifth most widely used herbicide worldwide with approximately over 20 million acres treated, and thus far there has been little reported resistance developed to the chemical.

Dicamba works simply by mimicking a naturally occurring plant hormone, thus causing uncontrollable growth in the targeted weed. At high levels of exposure, the growth becomes so severe that the unwanted plant, or weed, dies off as a result. Dicamba, which usually comes ready to tank mix in a salt form, has several accepted methods of application, including ground or aerial broadcast, soil treatment, injection and spot treatment. It is reported to be both highly mobile in and poorly absorbed by most soil types, especially the harder Midwestern clay-based soils, further advancing the need for careful application and proper stewardship.

“BASF has more than 50 years of experience working with the dicamba molecule,” said Mike Hofer, BASF Corn Market Manager. “And throughout those 50 years we’ve constantly innovated the molecule. If you look back to when we introduced Banvel, and then Clarity back in 1992, and now on Engenia, in each step we’ve made advancements in the formulation to decrease volatility.”

With this advanced formulation, BASF’s goal was to reduce volatility dramatically, says Hofer. “In fact,  we have five different methods to measure volatility and each method proves that Engenia will be the lowest volatility formulation of dicamba on the market.”

“Volatility is obviously a concern with dicamba and other similar molecules like 2,4-D,” says Dan Wright, Monsanto’s Dicamba Formulation Development Lead. “But dicamba’s (volatility) is also really pretty low and difficult to measure, so we have to use sophisticated methods to measure it.”

One test is the use of a Humidome, which involves spraying and then covering flats of soil with a plastic dome, then pulling air through the dome to expedite and better measure the volitalizing process.

“It takes us pulling air through the Humidome for 24 hours to be able to get enough of the material to be able to test for it,” he continued. “We’re looking for parts-per-trillion in the air, and that’s like putting an eye dropper of liquid int an Olympic size swimming pool.”

The Humidome trial revealed that Engenia, when compared with Banvel and Clarity, offers a 40% reduction in volatility.

The Spray Drift Question

Another area of important concern with dicamba, besides the volatility of the chemical itself, is spray drift. Dicamba is highly mobile in both the air and soil, as well as toxic to a wide variety of sensitive plants. So even with reduced volatilization built into the new formula, it is still a significant factor that must be accounted for when applying dicamba.

“They’re going to have to prove to the EPA that they have a product that not only controls weeds as well as the stuff we’ve been using, but also poses a lower risk for off-site movement,” says Bill Johnson, Professor of Weed Sciences at Purdue University. “There’s going to be a lot of pressure on them to do those kind of things in order to get this technology approved.”

According to Wright, one of the most difficult aspects of diagnosing spray drift is the length of time it takes for symptoms to appear.

“What happens with auxin herbicides like dicamba is that it takes about a week to 14 days before you start seeing spray drift damage,” says Wright. “So, a lot of growers think ‘Well, I didn’t see that injury for a week or more so the material must’ve gotten up and walked off the field after I sprayed it.’

“In reality it was probably some kind of spray drift, like spraying in a high-wind situation or with the wrong nozzle,” he continues. “So, it really happened when you actually applied it, but you don’t see that effect until a week or two weeks later.”

“Like with any crop protection product, spray drift must be managed,” says Hofer. “One of the things were currently doing in the market is stressing our “Triple A Activity” with herbicides. So, that’d be using the proper adjuvant, the proper air induction nozzle, and of course training applicators on making sure they’re cognizant of air space.”

Training Needed

Providing hands-on expertise to those applicators is the purpose of the 2012 On Target Application Academy, through which BASF and Monsanto recognized the opportunity to educate applicators alongside Dr. Robert E. Wolf, Manager of Wolf Consulting and Research LLC and an Application Technology Specialist for TeeJet Technologies Inc.

“We’re really proud to be launching our On Target Application Spray Academy, which is specifically designed to help growers and retailers understand how to apply crop protection products properly,” says Hofer.

The academy will be held throughout the year all over the country at industry events and is a free program that includes classroom presentations and hands-on learning opportunities. The sessions will reportedly cover an array of topics including:

  • Best practices for self-application.
  • Adjuvants.
  • Calibration.
  • Equipment clean-out.
  • Nozzle selection and demonstration.
  • Plant Biology.
  • Sprayer set up.
  • Understanding product labels.

“Obviously the number one goal of any application is to have good weed control, and right along beside that you have to have good drift management practices,” says Dr. Wolf. “We need to get growers and commercial applicators in the frame of mind that, if they are going to apply these products, they need to select and use a spray nozzle correctly so that they don’t create the drift that is possible when using some of the older spray nozzle technologies.”

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work in understanding what types of nozzles we want to recommend and selecting those that will reduce drift, keeping this product on target,” said Joe Sandbrink, Monsanto Product Development Manager. “This going to be a great tool in addition to our Roundup Ready Plus solutions.”

Avoiding More Resistance

Aside from spray drift, another concern with increased dicamba use is the prospect of developing a resistance in some weeds down the road due to an overuse of the technology.

“I think history has hopefully taught us, and any of the companies that claim that it will never happen – that it will happen,” says Johnson of dicamba-resistance. “We already have dicamba-resistant weeds so it’s not like anyone can stand there and say it’s never going to happen. How soon will it happen? It’s really hard to tell. But we’re at the point now where we need new tools for soybeans, and dicamba is certainly going to help us in that regard.”

Specifically, dicamba-resistant waterhemp is one weed that experts expect will present a significant challenge.

“Certainly the biggest concern right now is dicamba-resistant waterhemp,” says Dr. Ian Heap of the Weed Science Society of America. “It has already evolved and with the adoption of the new synthetic auxin-tolerant crops there will be widespread resistance in waterhemp.”

Still, even with the growing possibility of increased resistance, Heap cautions against completely writing off such a useful tool.

“As with any herbicide site of action, if it is overused it will fail,” says Heap of the Engenia formulation. “But we don’t condemn the technology, as it will be very useful in rotation/combination with glyphosate. We just caution people on overreliance.”

One way to avoid dicamba overreliance is using the herbicide in combination with other weed management strategies, such as field scouting and in pre-and post-application tank mixes fortified with glyphosate.

“If anything it’s not just one thing, its multiple ways to control weeds in a system,” says Hofer. “It’s a systematic approach for weed control. There’s certainly no magic bullet and because of that we need to integrate a planned approach to weed control. There’s a strong history of successful applications with dicamba and certainly we recognize that Engenia will be a part of that successful ongoing history moving forward.”

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Herbicide Systems 2.0: Life Beyond Dicamba

  1. As an applicator of pesticides I do Not believe a 40% reduction in volatility will be enough to address the issues of this product. Also through labeling the marketers of these products are able to shift the liability of off site movement from themselves to the users and applicators of these products. In my opinion the risks of using these products outweigh the benefits in most situations.

State of the Industry Stories

State of the IndustryAgriculture’s Troubled Waters
March 3, 2014
Water quantity and quality issues threaten to hamper agriculture on a wider scale in the not-too-distant future. Technology breakthroughs and improved practices are providing potential solutions. Read More
State of the IndustrySponsor Profiles: Simplot, SST And WinField Support CropLife State Of The Industry Report
January 8, 2014
The sponsor partners of the CropLife State of the Industry report have demonstrated ongoing leadership including their support of this report. Read More
State of the Industry2014 State Of The Industry: Agricultural Concerns Creep In
January 2, 2014
With many strong sales years under its belt, the agricultural community is hoping for another positive growth experience in 2014, but mindful of a few challenges that might keep this from happening. Read More
State of the IndustrySeed Systems Top Watch List
January 2, 2014
Retailers are closely following herbicide tolerance and drought resistance traits. Read More

Trending Articles

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More
LegislationCropLife America Leaders Address Regulatory Landscape, …
September 8, 2014
As CropLife America enters its 81st year, the organization’s leaders have seen another period of rapid and visible policy and public issue activity. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More