Dicamba Incidents Prove Precision Ag۪s Long Road

It’s been a little bit like watching a train wreck in real time. Only lately, somebody pressed the fast-forward button.

The train wreck in reference is what will probably go down in agriculture’s history as the “Dicamba Disaster of 2017.”

It’s not that dicamba doesn’t work on weeds. However, one of dicamba’s unfortunate characteristics is that it is highly volatile, which means it may not end up where it was intended. That’s a problem, especially when the neighbor next door and even the one down the road has just “regular” Roundup beans.

The real-world result caused both plants and producers to be burned by dicamba gone rogue. The growing number of “incidents” has resulted in entire states banning the application of dicamba-related products. Now, producers and custom applicators are back in the same corner and are likely to lose another season to weeds that know no fear.

Sorting It Out. In this day and age of “technology,” how did we as an industry allow this to happen? What could we have done better? Could better practices and technology have prevented such a mess?

Without a doubt, there is going to be a ton of finger-pointing and a boatload of lawsuits before this is all over. The saddest part or the reality of such incidents is that a majority of the responsibility for what happens when dicamba or any chemistry is applied lies with the applicators them-selves. Guilty or not, the buck is likely to stop with them.

As hard as this lesson is to accept, it must be used as a call to action. We must prove that we as an industry can consistently apply even the most restricted crop protection products in a responsible fashion. That will require industry to implement next-generation precision technologies such as real-time, field-based weather delivered to the cab. If conditions are wrong, then the system should either emphatically warn against application or shut it down altogether.

Then, one could point to the fact that it is past time for a better sprayer or, more importantly, better nozzle technologies. One nozzle size and type does not work now that Roundup isn’t the only tool in the chemistry toolbox. Pulse nozzle technologies such as those from John Deere, Raven, Capstan and CNH’s AIM system will likely become much more common due to today’s dynamic environment.

Dreaded Paperwork. The biggest change likely to happen because of these missteps is that the weight of documentation and ensuing regulations is about to get a lot more burdensome. That’s where what actually happens in the field must be what gets reported. Today, records are still too scattered and too much of an afterthought. Quickly documenting products that actually go into the tank could involve scanning products using barcode or RFID technology and transferring the data instantly to the sprayer monitor and the cloud. Plus, applications should be recorded and streamed real-time using wireless CAN bus technologies such as Farmobile and JDLink. 

Bottom line, the technology is here now to do a better spraying job. It just needs to be implemented and integrated. The dicamba incidents just showed that this struggle is far from over and that precision technology still has a way to go.  


Latest News

How Important is U.S. Ag and Food to the Economy?

In celebration of National Ag Day and National Ag Week, the 2023 Feeding the Economy report shows just how vital the industry is to U.S. families, communities and the world.

Ferrie: Ready, Set, Whoops! A Fast Start To Fieldwork Could Cost You Big In Corn At V5

Caution can help you avoid creating compaction or density layers. Plus, if you're applying anhydrous now, allowing 14 days between the application and planting can prevent dead or damaged plants and costly yield dings.

Nebraska Farmland Values Jump 14% in 2023 — Up 30% in Two Years

This year marks the second-largest increase in the market value of agricultural land in Nebraska since 2014 and the highest non-inflation-adjusted statewide land value in the 45-year history of the survey. 

U.S. Milk Production and Cow Numbers Both Rise

The February 2023 USDA Milk Production report showed an 0.8% increase in year-over-year milk production with a total of 17.7 billion lbs. of milk. Also following suit, U.S. cow numbers also documented growth.

Crude Oil Prices Drop Below $70: What is the Outlook for Consumers at the Pump and Farmers Heading Into Spring Planting?

Oil prices are also off their highs of last year and gas and diesel prices are also sliding at the pump, but will that trend continue ahead of planting?   Energy experts are hoping the answer is yes.  

Can the $20-Billion Inflation Reduction Act Get Rolled Out Quickly Enough?

Industry experts say the new legislative package represents a 'generational opportunity' for conservation funding and needs to reach U.S. farmers and livestock producers sooner rather than later, starting this spring.