Dicamba-resistant crops have been a mixed blessing for agriculture. On one hand, growers desperate to combat herbicide-resistant weeds now have a new way to fight back. On the other hand, the number of complaints by growers claiming off-target damage from dicamba application easily topped the 2,000 mark by the end of 2017, spread out across dozens of states.
To try and curb this level of off-target dicamba damage, custom applicators across the country are being required to undergo formal training classes to better learn how to apply dicamba and minimize the threat of drift. While many states are reportedly still in the process of organizing these sessions, Illinois has jumped whole-heartedly into this mix. The state is offering free classes and has developed a new Website (www.ifca.com/illinoisdicambatraining) to promote this cause.
“Illinois wants to be proactive in making sure farmers and applicators are aware of the new requirements,” said Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Raymond Poe in a written statement. “The attendance of farmers and commercial applicators at these training programs so far has been phenomenal, with over 1,000 applicators trained in just the first few weeks of classes.” (For some perspective, Illinois has more than 15,000 licensed pesticide applicators.)
According to Jean Payne, President of the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA), the proper stewardship of dicamba in 2018 will be of paramount importance to the industry to keep a repeat of 2017’s problems from occurring. And this includes everyone within the agricultural chain.
“Although applicators are required to have training, we encourage everyone who plants dicamba-tolerant soybeans to attend a class and understand the careful approach that must be taken to successfully steward this technology,” says Payne.