A vote last week by the Arkansas Plant Board to impose an emergency ban on spraying dicamba herbicide is hot news in both the mainstream media and the ag community. Dicamba is used to battle the herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth that plagues farmers in Arkansas, and the recent introduction of BASF’s Engenia brand dicamba herbicide, sold for use on dicamba-resistant soybeans, has allowed post-emergent applications of dicamba on soybean fields.
However, dicamba is prone to herbicide drift, volatilization and movement with the wind. Farms near those planting the resistant soybeans are sometimes paying the price — damaged crops, such as the wilted soybeans shown in the photo above. As of late last week, state regulators have received over 240 complaints, with more rolling in each day, from farmers who believe their crops have been impacted.
Collateral damage to neighboring crops has caused conflict between farmers, pitting those who chose to invest in the new GE-technology against those farmers not buying the new GE soybean seed. Arkansas, as an early adopter of the new dicamba-resistant technology, has had more problems with dicamba drift than most states, but issues are cropping up elsewhere as well. An AgWeb article also published this week cites 27 recent complaints of damage due to dicamba drift in Tennessee, suggesting this problem is not going away.
Is history going to repeat itself in Arkansas? The uproar uproar over Monsanto’s Xtendimax dicamba-resistant technology resulted in a similar ban in the state in January 2017.
The proposed dicamba ban now heads to the desk of Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson for approval, stay tuned for more on this intense debate, including an upcoming Hygeia Analytics Blog.
Chris Bennett, “Arkansas Dicamba Ban Passes, Heads to Governor’s Desk,” Farm Journal’s AgPro, published online June 26, 2017.
Chris Bennett, “Dicamba Drift Reports Rise in Tennessee,” Farm Journals AgWeb, published online June 26, 2017,
Dan Charles, “Arkansas Tries To Stop An Epidemic Of Herbicide Damage,” NPR, published online June 23, 2017.