As you know, the EPA gave a two-year extension on the registration for in-season, over-the-top use of auxin technology, something growers can be pleased about, and something that came at great cost and effort.
Because this is an opinion piece, I feel free to say that the state departments of agriculture in the Southeast, in coordination with land-grant experts, Extension personnel and the best, most-diverse farmers in the country did an exceptional job stewarding the auxin/dicamba technology over the past two years; no easy task and done under strict scrutiny from both in and out of the agricultural community.
I asked Tommy Gray, director of the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Plant Industry division, his general thoughts on the 2018 season relating to the technology and for a bit of his insight on where we go from here.
“Georgia is pleased with EPA’s decision on dicamba products, as well.
For 2018, Georgia had four official dicamba drift complaints that we investigated. We weren’t able to confirm drift or off-target movement in any of those cases. Samples collected by us were all negative. However, we did find some label violations for things like record keeping and applicators not trained.
I believe Georgia growers did very well with the technology in 2018. … and handled all the additional requirements for auxin herbicides extremely well. The fact we had very few complaints is an indication growers followed instructions presented during required Using Pesticides Wisely training (or UPW). UGA Extension played a huge role in getting information delivered and emphasizing things like knowing whether or not susceptible crops are nearby, checking wind speeds, using correct nozzles, etc.
My only advice to growers is to remain vigilant when applying auxin herbicides and stay current on any label changes or training requirements. The Georgia Department of Ag and UGA Extension will be working together to decide if changes to the UPW training need to be made for 2019. We will also determine if any additional requirements need to be made using Special Local Need labels.”
The massive stewardship effort cost money, overtime, special training and professional diligence, from in-field applicators to Extension to regulatory officials — and industry representatives — who wanted the technology to work for growers.
Growers have widely adopted auxin technology to their operations; it has proven to be an effective tool in managing weeds. But it is just one tool as growers move forward with science-based, systems to manage extreme weed pressure and keep resistance at bay.
The last two years proved a particular type of system works, one that maybe doesn’t get due recognition: A dogged educational effort in tight cooperation with helpful regulatory oversight and vigilant farmers can and does work.
Good luck. Take care, and thanks for reading.