Managing Herbicide-Resistant Weeds: The Importance Of ‘A Clean Environment’

As the problem of herbicide-resistant weeds has spread, crop protection product suppliers have charged their top researchers with coming up with new options and procedures for grower-customers to fight back. In some instances, these efforts will involve new cropping systems to work in conjunction with existing ones such as Roundup Ready and LibertyLink. This includes the Enlist System, which uses a new form of 2,4-D in its mix, and dicamba-resistant crops from various suppliers.

While promising to help beleaguered growers fight back against herbicide-resistant weeds, some of these new herbicide options will require some special care to be used properly across the nation’s crop fields. In particular, say experts, sprayer tank clean-out will become a much more important part of every custom applicators’ regular work regimen.

“People working with these products will have to be much more aware of sprayer hygiene than they’ve ever been in the past few decades,” says Susan Curvey, technical development manager for The Monsanto Co., which is preparing to introduce its dicamba/glyphosate cropping system under the Roundup Ready Xtend brand name. “Our label will clearly state this, but it’s probably good for applicators to follow some of these common sense procedures no matter what herbicide is in their sprayer tanks.”

Rinse, Repeat, Repeat

When it comes to the tank itself, Curvey recommends applicators conduct a triple rinse between product changes. “The best way to avoid any problems after the fact is to start with a clean sprayer,” she says. “Although it may seem a bit basic to say, starting out with a completely clean sprayer is much better than working with a dirty one.” Curvey also suggests that custom applicators use some kind of cleaner between the second and third tank rinse to “make certain no contaminants are left clinging to the walls of the tank.” Tips and end-caps should also be flushed.

A final suggestion from Curvey is for custom applicators to not forget about their filters. “Some people I’ve talked to didn’t remember the last time they cleaned out their filters, and a filter is a really great place to hold stuff such as solids,” she says. “And these things act as magnets for molecules. It doesn’t take much dicamba left in a filter to cause an applicator some major headaches later on.”

One option to make certain clean filters are always in place is to have a second set of them available for use. “I’ve recommended this to several people I’ve spoken with and they think it’s a really good idea,” says Curvey. “That way, one set of filters can be in the sprayer while the other set is soaking.”

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