Experts predict even more dicamba drift damage this year
Published: April 4, 2018
Category: Pesticide Hazards, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
Drift from dicamba herbicide has damaged several million acres of farmland the past two years and even more is likely this year, according to university researchers and government officials.
Farmers are expected to plant about 40 million acres of Monsanto’s Xtend dicamba and glyphosate tolerant soybeans—double the number planted in 2017. That means that more of Monsanto’s XtendiMax, BASF’s Engenia and DuPont’s FeXapan, herbicides based on a chemical known as dicamba, will likely be applied.
Dicamba is known to volatize or turn from a liquid to a gas and travel for miles, damaging crops. Monsanto, BASF, and DuPont all claim their dicamba formulations are low volatility but with 3.6 million acres damaged in 2017 those claims are dubious at best.
Several states have placed restrictions on the use of dicamba including Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Tennessee. Arkansas, which saw the most dicamba drift damage, has banned use of the herbicide between April 16 and October 31. Missouri prohibits the use of dicamba after July 15.
University of Missouri Extension weed scientist Kevin Bradley who has tracked dicamba damage nationwide says Missouri’s cutoff date won’t affect drift damage.
“They went against my recommendation,” Bradley told Wallaces Farmer. “July 15 I don’t think will have any impact whatsoever on post application of dicamba in the state of Missouri.”
Mike Arway, Missouri Department of Agriculture pesticide use investigator, predicts a repeat of last year’s drift problems.
Despite evidence to the contrary, Monsanto continues to deny widespread damage from their herbicide and pushes ahead with sales of dicamba-resistant genetically modified seeds claiming that farmers need the technology.
Meanwhile, some farmers are growing Xtend GMO soybeans just to protect their farms from dicamba drift, a strategy that one farmer described as “tantamount to extortion.”
Source: Wallaces Farmer
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“The farmers I talk to are almost all going to grow dicamba soybeans this year because they don’t want to be exposed to the risk. I’m hesitant to think that someone in St. Louis (the home of Monsanto) did not think of this.”
David Ripplinger, North Dakota State University assistant professor of agricultural economics and bioenergy and bioproducts economist.