Iowa sees most dicamba damage since 1960s

One very scary thing that turned up in the news the other day was a report that virtually all non-dicamba resistant soybeans in the entire state of Iowa have been damaged by drifting dicamba based herbicides. (Source: Iowa sees most dicamba damage since 1960s | Crop | agupdate.com) The damage is the most expensive since dicamba was first introduced back in the 1960s. This isn’t just scattered spots. According to the article it seems that every single soybean field that wasn’t planted with dicamba resistant beans is showing various degrees of damage from drifting herbicide

This is exactly the kind of scenario some farmers and environmentalists feared when Monsanto first introduced its dicamba blend herbicides and dicamba resistant soybean seeds. The fear was that Monsanto would have a literal monopoly on the sale of soybean seed because if you didn’t plant their more expensive seed, you risked your crop being damaged by herbicide drift from the fields of other farmers. The company, of course, claimed this was false, that its herbicide was safe, and there was nothing to worry about. Yeah. Right…

You may recall that the EPA was forced to rescind its approval of Monsanto’s (now owned by Bayer) dicamba blend herbicide because it violated its own procedures and ignored data indicating serious problems with it. So why is the stuff still being used? Because it was ruled that farmers could continue to use any dicamba based herbicides they still had in stock, and because the EPA isn’t actually in control of what herbicides can be used on farm fields, the individual states are. And, of course, the court ruling applies only to two of the three dicamba blends being used with soybeans. So dicamba is still available and can still be used, depending on the rules of individual states. And the court ruling only applied to two of the three major types of dicamba blends on the market.

Granted, this situation is a bit extraordinary in that a “perfect storm” of conditions came into play that permitted the herbicide to vaporize and drift so badly in Iowa. But the basic problem is that despite all of the restrictions and conditions that apply to the application of these products, they are still vaporizing and drifting over long distances. It seems that there are simply no conditions under which there isn’t a significant risk of the herbicide getting out of control and damaging not just non-GM soybeans but other plants as well.

Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer.

2 thoughts on “Iowa sees most dicamba damage since 1960s”

  1. That’s crazy bad. We haven’t had the widespread drift issues here, and I thinks it mostly the fact that our land base is now so fragmented that we don’t see the huge, wide-open fields anymore. A big tract here is like 40 to 50 acres, and the few remaining big crop farmers have to cobble enough tracts together to make it worthwhile. But I think nearly every big farmer here was planting dicamba ready beans (which may also be why we didn’t see drift issues–they’re weren’t any other beans around to harm), which is exactly what happened with roundup ready beans, and then pigweed became resistant to it.

    I planted a little five-acre soybean patch this year, basically just to have something to harvest with my old pull-type combine that I like to piddle with, and used liberty beans and have been able to keep the pigweed beat back with it so far. Despite the fact that liberty beans still work, and you don’t see the drift issues, it seems like all the farmers have jumped on the dicamba bandwagon. When the court ruling happened, they were certainly not happy about it and just saw it as another form of government intrusion.

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    1. I think most farmers around here, at least the big ones, are using dicamba ready beans also. It isn’t just the non-modified soybeans the stuff hurts. There are reports of widespread damage to other crops, ornamental plants, orchards, etc. There isn’t as big a controversy about the court ruling up here. At least I haven’t been hearing much about it, but there are some nasty comments floating around online about it.

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