Northeast Arkansas, the Missouri Bootheel and northwest Tennessee are having problems with dicamba drift. In the Bootheel, four counties have been issued federal search warrants in relation to the illegal herbicide.
On Oct. 27, Michael Dean Wallace, 55, was found shot to death in Leachville, Ark. after what the county sheriff said was a dispute over dicamba drift. The accused shooter Allan Curtis Jones, 26, is now out on bail.
Tom Barber, an extension weed scientist with the University of Arkansas, said the university has researched drift for the last 3 to 4 years because they could predict it being a sensitive issue in the future.
He said drift isn’t a new issue. Mostly, the university deals with drift in rice, and the culprit is usually RoundUp. According to Barber, soybeans are very sensitive to dicamba, and it doesn’t take much of the herbicide to cause injury.
In the last year, there have been new technologies in plants that allow tolerance to dicamba. As a result, there are no registered herbicides to spray on those technologies.
Barber cited PPO-resistant pigweed and how some herbicides no longer work on pigweed.
The Arkansas State Plant Board is proposing to increase fines/penalties if farmers are caught using dicamba. Currently, farmers have to pay $1,000 per offense. If new regulation is passed, farmers could pay upwards of $25,000 if they’re caught.
Catching farmers is a problem. According to Sonja Begemann of Farm Journal, farmers in Mississippi Co., Ark. say some farmers spray dicamba at night to avoid being seen.
Listen to Barber discuss the University of Arkansas’ research on dicamba and Begemann’s coverage on the dicamba shooting on AgriTalk above.