Iowa is one of several states that will be conducting training sessions for the use of a controversial herbicide in the coming weeks.
Dicamba, used to control weeds in fields of genetically modified soybeans (and cotton), is blamed for damaging other nearby crops. Iowa deputy secretary of agriculture Mike Naig believes the training will help correct issues that arose last year with dicamba.
“There’s a fairly steep learning curve here with this product,” Naig says. “There are a lot of different conditions on the label, from tank mixes and tank clean-out to boom heights, ground speed, wind speed…different items that folks need to be aware of to make good, safe, effective application.”
Farmers who don’t buy special resistant seeds have complained about damage to their crops from dicamba sprayed on neighboring fields. Naig says the training won’t completely eliminate dicamba drift issues.
“It’s just a reality of what happens across the countryside,” he says. “But when we look back and think about some of the things that did happen in 2017, and look at some of the causes of drift, we think that education will be a big part of trying to correct those things in 2018.” Iowa has not imposed any additional restrictions on dicamba applications, as have some other states – including Missouri and Minnesota.
“We believe that making it a restricted use product and this additional training will go a long way to addressing some of the challenges, or some of the issues, that we saw in 2017,” Naig said. The EPA, in October, reached a deal with the makers of dicamba – which will now be labeled as “restricted use.”
Farmers will be required to keep records to show they’re following new rules concerning when and how the herbicide can be sprayed. The group Pesticide Action Network has been critical of the EPA for not going further – claiming dicamba drift damaged three-million acres of crops across the U.S. last year.