Herbicide drift featured at seminar

Johnny Morgan, Stephenson, Daniel O., Pope, Kimberly, Miller, Donnie K., Copes, Josh, Price, Randy R.  |  6/13/2015 1:23:49 AM

Dennis Gardisser, an engineer with WRK of Arkansas, a company that specializes in chemical application technology and plant protection products, demonstrates proper nozzle cleaning and adjustment at the drift mitigation and application technology education seminar in Winnsboro on June 9. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

LSU AgCenter engineer Randy Price demonstrates the possibilities of using drones on the farm to photograph fields, as well as a way to spot treat for weeds at drift mitigation and application technology education seminar in Winnsboro on June 9. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

Donnie Miller, LSU AgCenter researcher and research coordinator at the LSU AgCenter Macon Ridge Research Station, points out herbicide damage on soybeans at the drift mitigation and application technology education seminar in Winnsboro on June 9. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

News Release Distributed 06/12/15

WINNSBORO, La. – Keeping chemicals from drifting to non-target areas led the discussion at a drift mitigation and application technology education seminar in Winnsboro on June 9.

The program featured talks on the history of herbicide technology, proper tank clean out, understanding pesticide labels, pollinator protection, company updates and application technology.

Participants who heard about the latest herbicides from BASF, Dow and Monsanto, included staff from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, commercial applicators and producers, said Kim Pope, LSU AgCenter pesticide safety education coordinator.

“Herbicide drift is nothing new,” said Donnie Miller, LSU AgCenter researcher and research coordinator at the LSU AgCenter Macon Ridge Research Station in Winnsboro. “But with the introduction of the 2, 4-D-resistant crops and dicamba-resistant crops, it’s going to become imperative that we follow labels and any other restrictions.”

Miller’s advice to applicators is to be aware of any environmental conditions that cause damage in unintended fields or other areas.

Miller also discussed symptoms seen in fields that can look like herbicide damage but could actually be insect damage or some other problem that requires producers to make sure of what they are looking at before making an incorrect diagnosis.

Weather is a major factor that influences when it is safe to spray chemicals to control weeds in agricultural operations, said Baton Rouge meteorologist Jay Grymes.

Wind, temperature and relative humidity are a few factors that can affect chemical drift. Particle size of the chemicals also can determine the distance of drift, Grymes said.

“As urban areas encroach closer to farms, it’s becoming more important for chemical applicators to be mindful of their surroundings to avoid drift problems,” Grymes said.

Grymes explained the different types of drift, from small particle drift to vapor drift.

“Vapor drift is probably the most important because it can often cause damage many days after the initial spray,” he said.

LSU AgCenter weed scientist Daniel Stephenson gave an overview of the history of herbicides and discussed how some plants have become herbicide-resistant.

Weed control and resistance in weeds are problems that are seen more often with the repeated use of single-herbicide modes of action, said LSU AgCenter research associate Josh Copes.

“The mutations that occur within plants that cause them to become resistant is naturally occurring and over years of continued use of a certain herbicide causes the resistant gene to become active,” Copes said. “The herbicide does not cause the resistance. The resistant gene is already within certain plants.”

As of this year, 152 known herbicide-resistant weeds are in the United States, Copes said. “On a global scale, that number is 457 unique resistant cases.”

Dennis Gardisser, an engineer with WRK of Arkansas, a company that specializes in chemical application technology and plant protection products, discussed proper spray rig maintenance and demonstrated proper nozzle cleaning.

“I’m working with BASF to highlight the differences in application that will be necessary to apply these new products so they are very effective and the grower gets the best benefit from them,” Gardisser said.

His presentation also stressed the importance of reading the label of the new products that are available to protect the public.

“We need to make sure that we use the correct terminology also,” Gardisser said. “Sometimes we say things like drift minimization, which means decreasing drift, when in reality, we are involved in mitigation or making sure there is no drift.”

Gardisser’s calibration demonstration showed the importance of regular maintenance of equipment, proper nozzle selection and proper cleaning of tanks and spray equipment.

Pope discussed the importance of chemical applicators being aware of beehive locations because some farm chemicals are being blamed for killing the bees that pollinate fruits and vegetables.

“So we came up with the Louisiana Pollinator Cooperative Conservation Program, which includes everybody involved, from farmers and aerial applicators to county agents, so we can have dialogue with the beekeepers,” Pope said.

As part of a cooperative effort with beekeepers, a flag is now available to show the location of hives to avoid spraying in those areas, she said.

The possibility of using drones as a way to spot treat for weeds got the attention of the participants, and the drone demonstration by LSU AgCenter engineer Randy Price showed even more possibilities for this technology.

“Drones are a bit small to use for overall spray applications, but it works great for monitoring the fields,” Price said.

Miller led a field tour to show what drift damage looks like. He also discussed how not properly cleaning tanks when changing chemicals can cause major damage.

Johnny Morgan

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