Dicamba

Credit Kevin Bradley / University of Missouri

 

    

Pesticide drift during the 2017 growing was historic -- about 3.6 million acres of soybeans were damaged by the weed killer dicamba. The Environmental Protection Agency and several states have slapped on stricter guidelines for the 2018 growing season, but enough damage has been done that stakeholders across the industry are worried that we've forced farmers into a cycle of always needing a stronger chemical to combat weeds that have grown resistant to what's already on shelves.

Courtesy of Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture held a public hearing Wednesday to discuss a proposed emergency rule restricting the sales of two popular pesticides.

Generally, the rule would stop sales of the weed killers dicamba and 2,4-D between April 15 and October 1 in Missouri. The department’s goal is to prevent off-label pesticides from drifting onto neighboring property and damaging other crops.

In the hearing, representatives from several agricultural groups stated that 2,4-D should not be lumped in with dicamba. Dicamba allegedly damaged 325,000 acres of soybeans in the state last year.

Credit Kevin Bradley / University of Missouri


dicamba, cotton seeds,
Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media/KBIA

The herbicide dicamba is thought to have been the culprit in more than 3 million acres of damaged soybeans across the country, destroying plants and leaving farmers out millions of dollars in crops.

 

The chemical has been in use for decades, so why is it today apparently causing farms so much damage?

 

The answer is two-pronged, according to Kevin Bradley, a University of Missouri assistant professor and weed specialist who has studied the reported damage. Here’s what he says:

Updated 2:30 p.m. July 13 with comment from Monsanto — Farmers can resume using the herbicide dicamba, the Missouri Department of Agriculture announced Thursday.

The new restrictions come less than a week after the department issued a temporary ban on the sale and use of the controversial herbicide. Missouri has received more than 100 complaints this year of drifting herbicide, which had damaged crops.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

 

The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced a temporary ban on the sale and use of agricultural products containing the pesticide dicamba on Friday, following a similar step by regulators in Arkansas.

Dicamba, a popular weedkiller, is suspected in the damage of tens of thousands of farm acres primarily in Arkansas, but also in southeast Missouri and in neighboring states. After farmers sprayed the chemical on their fields -- sometimes with illegal and outdated versions -- the pesticide allegedly drifted over to neighboring farmland, destroying crops.

More than 130 complaints about drift damage have been filed in Missouri this year, according to the state’s Agriculture Department.

Kevin Dooley / Flickr

State lawmakers say they'll hold a hearing to talk about damage caused from the illegal spraying of the dicamba herbicide on crops in southeastern Missouri.