Jeff Bunting
LEARNING CURVE: “This is a good thing. It will make us slow down and think about what we’re doing,” says Jeff Bunting, Growmark crop protection division manager.

How the ag industry will deal with dicamba

From applicator procedures and protocols to tools in the palm of your hand, the ag market prepares for in-season dicamba applications.

Editor's note: This is the third in a series of stories about in-season dicamba use in Illinois. Part 1 discussed low-volatility formulations, particle drift vs. vapor drift, label requirements and where dicamba may work. Part 2 covered off-target movement, violations and litigation.

Are you planning to apply in-season dicamba to soybeans on your own or using a custom applicator? Across the state, applicators and agribusiness professionals are figuring out ways to do this successfully. 

Jeff Bunting, Growmark crop protection division manager, says they’ve held several internal meetings with everyone who may work with and apply dicamba this season, including FS applicators and plant managers. “That’s been our major focus for the last six weeks,” he explains. “We’re going to manage this in a way that maximizes performance and minimizes risk with the technology.”

Some FS locations will use a combination of dedicated dicamba sprayers, tenders and direct-injection sprayers to minimize cross-contamination. Bunting says they’re also educating the applicators on selecting the right nozzles based on the herbicides being applied.

The entire Growmark organization has spent time in communication and training as application season approaches — a herculean task as labels keep changing. “This thing is new for all of us,” Bunting says. “We’re used to having products that always had the label printed on the container.”

He adds that the XtendiMax label on that product’s jug is a benchmark for proper use, but it’s more complicated than that. Farmers and applicators need to know the supplemental label and must visit to understand what’s allowed in a tankmix or how to pick the right adjuvant.

“It’s not any different than a baseball or basketball team,” Bunting says. “You can put the players in the right spots and positions, but it’s how you execute those roles that determines whether you win or lose. Our focus has been making this a win-win situation.”

Growmark also has a list of farmers planting Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans who will likely handle applications on their own. Bunting says communication with this particular group is critical.

“We don’t want to experience what happened last year in ther Midsouth in states like Missouri,” he explains. “Thousands of acres were impacted in the Midsouth, and an individual lost his life because of that. We need to make sure to follow the label, use the labeled herbicides with the technology, and execute the best management practices required on the label.”

News for farmer-applicators
What if you’re applying dicamba on your own? Jason Little, director of sales for Agrible, says in-season dicamba use was one of the reasons his company developed Spray Smart, part of the Morning Farm Report AgriBundle package. It offers farmers a way to check and track field and weather conditions prior to applying chemicals.

Spray Smart gives a green, yellow or red light indicator for when soil conditions will support equipment. Little says Spray Smart also gives real-time data for inversion risk, atmospheric conditions, wind direction and wind speed to help make final application decisions.

Spraying new dicamba formulations within the target wind speeds of 3 to 10 mph will be tricky, he notes. The average wind speed at Agrible headquarters in Champaign from mid-May to mid-June in 2016 was 11 mph. There were only two days when the maximum wind gusts were below 15 mph. Translation? Little says there were two days out of 45 that would have met label requirements for new dicamba formulations, but Spray Smart can help determine windows of time when wind speeds could be within label requirements. “We need to be cognizant of those windows,” he says.

SPRAY SMART:  Jason Little, Agrible’s director of sales, says the new dicamba formulations have very strict application guidelines, including specific wind speed windows and avoiding inversions. “With Spray Smart, I can see when that best window for the least detrimental effect is and potentially control off-target movement,” he explains.

Spray Smart will track applications, including the time and a snapshot of conditions at the time of application, Little explains. Should issues and questions surrounding the application arise, the information is tracked in Morning Farm Report’s Field Story module.

Little says Spray Smart is part of the AgriBundle package that includes Yield Engine, Advance Nutrient Engine, Tractor Time Daily and more. The AgriBundle package is $2,300 per year, regardless of farm size. Farmers who work with ADM merchandisers or who are enrolled in the Agrible Sustainable Yield Program are eligible for a free AgriBundle package.

Little adds that the new Pocket Spray Smart is a free app available to download. Farmers with AgriBundle will be able to see the conditions for spraying for all of their fields in Morning Farm Report. He hopes farmers will use Pocket Spray Smart to make some difficult decisions.

“I can’t control the weather, but I can control the conditions I’m making the application in,” he notes.

GREEN MEANS GO: Spray Smart gives a green, yellow or red light indicator for when soil conditions will support equipment and provides real-time data for inversion risk, atmospheric conditions, wind direction and wind speed.
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