Renewable Farming

Dicamba drift makes National Public Radio headlines: Crime in the Fields

A report by Dan Charles on the National Public Radio site published Aug. 1 is headlined: “Crime in the Fields: How Monsanto and scofflaw farmers hurt soybeans in Arkansas.”

Its focus: Farmers in Missouri and Arkansas are filing herbicide-drift complaints about soybean damage from volatile dicamba sprayed by their neighbors. The story shows a photo of cupped soybean leaves from dicamba drift.

Evidence of dicamba herbicide damage on soybeans

We encourage you to read Dan Charles’ report, linked above. It reveals more than just a herbicide drift problem, but encapsulates the scenario of how herbicide-resistant GMO crops are forcing farmers to plant such crops in defense against toxic herbicide drift.  Yet, the near-certainty is that each “new” herbicide will lead only to resistant weeds in a few seasons. 

University of Arkansas researcher Jason Norsworthy found that pigweed sprayed with light doses of dicamba developed resistance in just three generations.

What’s the alternative to dead-end chemical weed control? Certainly, improving soil biological health to reduce weed pressure is a prime objective. And meanwhile, there could be a signal in a field day sponsored recently by AgriEnergy Resources: New ways to cultivate crops.

Eventually, scanners and robotic cultivators may roam fields, sensing and laser-cutting weeds so they can’t build resistance. Europeans are working on it.