States Enact Steeper Fines for Herbicide Misuse
Many states are hoping to combat illegal herbicide use by increasing fines for each offense.
According to recently passed legislation in Missouri, “Immediate action is necessary to ensure the vitality of the agricultural industry in this state by preventing the devastating effects of the misuse of herbicides.”
For the first offense, fines in Missouri jump to $1,000 per applied acre instead of $1,000 per field previously. If someone is found illegally using herbicide for two consecutive years or twice in three years, fines increase to $2,000 per applied acre. In addition, anyone who is penalized will be liable for any costs associated with testing.
Missouri isn’t the only state upping the ante for herbicide drift. Under the Illinois Pesticide Act, authorities can fine an offender up to $10,000 for violations. Arkansas recently upped its maximum fines from $1,000 to $25,000. In Washington, the state’s department of agriculture can fine offenders up to $7,500 per violation.
In 2016, more than 41,000 acres of Missouri farmland was reportedly damaged by illegal dicamba application. The state also received more than 100 pesticide drift complaints and launched investigations in four southeastern Missouri counties. Complaints came from a variety of crops including soybeans, peaches, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, rice, purple-hull peas, peanuts cotton, alfalfa and residential plants.
California Adds Roundup to Prop 65
A California judge is requiring glyphosate be added to the state’s Proposition 65, a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, following a legal battle with Monsanto in March. The claim stems from a 2015 report by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that labeled glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, as “probably carcinogenic.”
“Regulators around the world, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the European Food Safety Authority and the state of California itself, have determined that glyphosate does not cause cancer,” says Christi Dixon, Monsanto corporate media relations lead. “The [California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s] flawed and baseless proposal to list glyphosate under Proposition 65 not only contradicts California’s own scientific assessment, but it also violates the California and U.S. Constitutions. We disagree with the court’s ruling, and we will continue to fight the decision on the basis of sound science and the law.”
If IARC’s findings are disproved, glyphosate can be removed from the list. It would “immediately remove the protection the state considers necessary to public health and welfare,” the agency says.
Researchers Identify Method of Atrazine Resistance in Waterhemp
Weeds typically develop resistance in one of two ways: target-site resistance or metabolic resistance. Researchers at the University of Illinois have found a way to identify the specific enzyme responsible for metabolic resistance in atrazine-resistant waterhemp.
When weeds display metabolic resistance, they use one of hundreds of enzymes to render the herbicide ineffective. Illinois researchers combed through the hundreds of enzymes that could be responsible for resistance to find the one responsible.
“We think we found the needle in the haystack,” says Dean Riechers, University of Illinois weed scientist. “As long as we know the gene, you could potentially knock it out and make it sensitive again.”
This test can be applied in other broadleaf weeds to find enzymes responsible for resistance. In addition, this information can help manufacturers develop new chemicals to control broadleaf plant pests.
“You could design a GST-inhibiting chemical that’s specific to this one GST [to create new effective chemistry for waterhemp],” Riechers says.
Marrone Bio Product Reduces Crop Stress
Haven antitranspirant, a biostimulant made by Marrone Bio, is a compound applied to leaves to reduce transpiration (water evaporation from leaves) to cool plants.
When plants are in stressful situations transpiration can damage crops. Haven is made from plant-based compounds that reflect light and heat to lower leaf temperatures, which also reduces water loss. The product has been tested on apples, almonds, walnuts, grapes, citrus, tomatoes, corn and wheat.
Haven is not visible and does not leave residue on crops. The company claims reducing sun stress in crops helps increase yields and improve quality.
FMC Acquires Portion of DuPont
Recently, DuPont agreed to sell FMC a portion of DuPont’s crop protection business. The European Commission required DuPont to divest part of its portfolio in order to merge with Dow Chemical Company. FMC will pay DuPont $1.2 billion for the business, and DuPont will acquire FMC Health and Nutrition.
FMC will acquire DuPont’s global chewing pest insecticide portfolio, global cereal broadleaf herbicides and a substantial portion of DuPont’s global crop protection research and development capabilities. FMC anticipates this acquired business will generate $1.5 billion in revenue in 2017 and make FMC the fifth-largest crop protection chemical company in the world by revenue.
Specifically, the business acquisition features an insecticide portfolio including Rynaxypyr, Cyazypyr and Indoxacarb. The acquired herbicide portfolio consists of nine active ingredients and multiple formulated products for the cereal broadleaf herbicide market, including DuPont’s PrecisionPac technology. FMC will also acquire the global manufacturing network that supports these products, which includes four active ingredient manufacturing facilities and 10 regional formulation plants.
“This is a significant step forward for FMC, and for our agricultural solutions business in particular,” says Pierre Brondeau, FMC president, CEO and chairman. “The combination of market-leading products from DuPont’s crop protection portfolio and its world-class R&D capabilities will transform our agricultural solutions business into a tier-one ag technology company.”
Differentiate Site of Action and Active Ingredient to Effectively Manage Weeds
On each herbicide label, companies specify active ingredients and sites of action alike. Note, each herbicide active ingredient falls into a specific site of action and the two are not the same classification and should not be treated as such.
“When you have resistance to one active ingredient you’ll generally have resistance to more than one in that herbicide site of action,” says Dave Johnson, DuPont Crop Protection Agronomist. “But there are some exceptions.”
For example, group four herbicides include 2,4-D and dicamba active ingredients. Each of these active ingredients have weed species with known resistances in certain parts of the country, but just because a weed is resistant to one of them does not mean it’s resistant to both. For example, University of Illinois researchers recently found a waterhemp plant with five different kinds of resistance—including 2,4-D, but the weed can still be controlled by dicamba.
Do your homework while planning your herbicide system—don’t assume all active ingredients are ineffective just because one is in a certain site of action. Refer to the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds website (www.weedscience.org) for information. The website includes complex details on herbicide resistance in the U.S., so it’s best to know herbicide site of action names (such as EPSP synthase inhibitors for glyphosate) prior to visiting the site. Before spraying, work with an expert to determine what herbicide is effective and the best fit.