From Nebraska to Ohio and down to the Bootheel of Missouri, more than 1,000 farmers, retailers and crop consultants attended seven Respect the Rotation™ events throughout the Midwest this summer. There they saw firsthand the impact glyphosate-resistant waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, giant ragweed and kochia can have on their profits. Attendees left ready to make a change on their own farms.
In cooperation with university partners, Bayer CropScience hosted field days to demonstrate the urgent need for proactive management of difficult to control weeds with resistance to glyphosate herbicides. Respect the Rotation is an initiative backed by Bayer that promotes rotation of crops, herbicide-tolerant traits and modes of action to encourage greater diversity in herbicide programs and reinforce the principles of Integrated Weed Management.
University weed scientists, industry experts and farmers discussed the extent of glyphosate weed resistance across the Midwest. Farmers and specialists traveled from the Mid-South to share stories of hoe crews chopping weeds, acres destroyed because of overwhelming weed pressure and how glyphosate herbicides simply no longer work.
Luckily, in the Midwest there are still options available. “Just because we have glyphosateresistant weeds out there doesn’t mean that glyphosate is not a useful herbicide at all,” said Lowell Sandell, weed scientist at the University of Nebraska. “We need to maintain its usefulness through active resistance management. Rotation of modes of action and diversification of our weed management programs both from a herbicide and a cultural practices standpoint is critical.”
Andy Hurst, technical brand manager for Bayer CropScience, agrees. “Diversity is vitally important to profitability,” he said. “The use of glyphosate in all major row crops this past year was 275 million acres treated. That exceeded the next closest active ingredient applied by nearly six-fold. Switching to another herbicide-tolerant trait like LibertyLink allows for use of a different chemical mode of action with Liberty herbicide. That puts producers ahead of weed pressure.”
Shift of MindsetRespect the Rotation event attendees realized the time has come to make a change.
“I didn’t realize the South had such bad weed problems,” said Jared McLaughlin, an Ohio famer at the Clarksburg, Ohio, Respect the Rotation event. “And I think that was one of the things that really drove home the message of resistance management – paying attention to it before it gets to the point that we have chopping crews out here to take care of our weed problems.”
Where a multi-faceted management approach was the norm 15 years ago, younger farmers have not had to use a diversified herbicide system to control weeds.
“My generation is known as the glyphosate babies. It’s all we grew up with – glyphosate, glyphosate, glyphosate,” said Jason Weirich, University of Missouri weed scientist at the Delta Research Center. “Everyone is looking at these different cropping systems about to be introduced to the market and none of those is a silver bullet. None of those is going to be as easy or as effective as some people might be saying or hoping they are.”
To better manage weeds, farmers need to integrate additional weed management tools, said Bryan Young, Southern Illinois University weed scientist, at the Red Bud, Ill. field day. The idea seems simple enough, but some are still reluctant to look beyond glyphosate.
“Even if you haven’t seen resistance, if you have fields that you’re managing with Roundup that just doesn’t seem to work, one year you can say it was environmental. Two years you might still argue that. If you’ve had three years of glyphosate that just doesn’t work as well today as in 1998, that’s a hint from the weeds that you need to change.”
Al Ludwig, a farmer from north central Iowa, knows rotation is a key component to stay ahead of potential resistance.
“We try to rotate our crops through glyphosate at the most every other year,” Ludwig said. “We’ll rotate and use Laudis on our corn, Sometimes we have fields go three years in a row without Roundup on them. In my personal use, Roundup continues to work very well every-other-year, as does my Ignite.”
Greg Kerber, a central Illinois farmer, believes price is a key hurdle for farmers to get beyond a glyphosate-dependant program. “No one wants to spend any extra money, but it seems like money is no object until no amount of money will make the problem go away,” Kerber said. “That’s what they have down south. They’d love for their $40 or $50 an acre program to actually give them control.”
Kerber sees the value in diversity on his farm. “This year, I still planted Roundup Ready corn, but I used a full rate of Corvus to give myself more time and freedom to spray the rest of my acres as needed. My LibertyLink soybean acres are where I have the heaviest waterhemp pressure, and all those acres have a pre-emergence treatment down early. You know, going back to a little more scouting and greater management is a not a bad thing. It’s probably where we should’ve been all along. I think that makes us better farmers.”
Respect the Rotation
The only way to remain profitable in the face of glyphosate-resistant weeds is to Respect the Rotation – rotation of crops, herbicide modes of action and herbicide-tolerant traits to increase diversity in every facet of an operation. A wide-variety of educational tools and information is available online.
The Respect the Rotation initiative doesn’t stop with summer field days. Throughout the winter months is the perfect time to evaluate the success of current weed management programs and start to build a plan for 2012. At the same time Bayer will continue to promote the messages of Respect the Rotation at meetings and in individual conversations.
“Bayer brought in experts to speak at tradeshows, seed companies and at farmer meetings in 2011,” said Bayer’s Hurst. “In 2012, we plan to continue that, as well as the Respect the Rotation events, and hope to engage an even greater audience of farmers, retailers and seed sellers throughout the Midwest and Mid-South. As more people understand and employ the message of rotation and diversity, we will see cleaner fields and higher yields.”
For more information about Respect the Rotation, visit www.bayercropscience.us/ourcommitment/respect-the-rotation.com or talk to your local Bayer CropScience representative or call 1-866-99-BAYER (1-866-992-2937).
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