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    Crime In The Fields: How Monsanto And Scofflaw Farmers Hurt Soybeans In Arkansas

    August 1, 2016·7:00 AM ET

    It was a good through but now I bet EPA will not give it a labile---------------------------------dave

    These soybean leaves show evidence of damage from dicamba. It could cut the the harvest by 10 to 30 percent.

    Courtesy of the University of Arkansas

    When agricultural extension agent Tom Barber drives the country roads of eastern Arkansas this summer, his trained eye can spot the damage: soybean leaves contorted into cup-like shapes.

    He's seeing it in field after field. Similar damage is turning up in Tennessee and in the "boot-heel" region of Missouri. Tens of thousands of acres are affected.

    This is no natural phenomenon of weather or disease. It's almost certainly the result of a crime. The disfigured leaves are evidence that a neighboring farmer sprayed a herbicide called dicamba, probably in violation of the law.

    Dicamba has been around for decades, and it is notorious for a couple of things: It vaporizes quickly and blows with the wind. And it's especially toxic to soybeans, even at ridiculously low concentrations.

    Damage from drifting pesticides isn't unfamiliar to farmers. But the reason for this year's plague of dicamba damage is unprecedented. "I've never seen anything like this before," says Bob Scott, a weed specialist from the University of Arkansas. "This is a unique situation that Monsanto created."

    The story starts with Monsanto because the St. Louis-based biotech giant launched, this year, an updated version of its herbicide-tolerant soybean seeds. This new version, which Monsanto calls "Xtend," isn't just engineered to tolerate sprays of glyphosate, aka Roundup. It's also immune to dicamba.

    Monsanto created dicamba-resistant soybeans (and cotton) in an effort to stay a step ahead of the weeds. The strategy of planting Roundup-resistant crops and spraying Roundup to kill weeds isn't working so well anymore, because weeds have evolved resistance to glyphosate. Adding genes for dicamba resistance, so the thinking went, would give farmers the option of spraying dicamba as well, which would clear out the weeds that survive glyphosate.

    There was just one hitch in the plan. A very big hitch, as it turned out. The Environmental Protection Agency has not yet approved the new dicamba weedkiller that Monsanto created for farmers to spray on its new dicamba-resistant crops. That new formulation of dicamba, according to Monsanto, has been formulated so that it won't vaporize as easily, and won't be as likely to harm neighboring crops. If the EPA approves the new weedkiller, it may impose restrictions on how and when the chemical may be used.

    But, Monsanto went ahead and started selling its dicamba-resistant soybeans before this herbicide was approved. It gave farmers a new weed-killing tool that they couldn't legally use.

    Monsanto says it did so because these seeds weren't just resistant to dicamba; they also offered higher yields, which farmers wanted. In an email to The Salt, Phil Miller, Monsanto's vice president for global regulatory and government affairs, wrote that "there's incredible value in the Xtend technology independent of herbicide applications: There is great demand for strong yield performance and our latest industry leading genetics." Monsanto says it also made it clear to farmers that they were not allowed to spray dicamba on these dicamba-resistant beans.

    Farmers themselves, however, may have had other ideas. Robert Goodson, an agricultural extension agent in Phillips County, Ark., believes that some farmers were hoping that the EPA would approve the new dicamba weedkiller in the course of the growing season, so they'd get to spray it over their crops.

    Or maybe some farmers secretly intended to violate the law, using regular old dicamba, even without EPA approval.

    Farmers in this part of the country are struggling to control a weed called Palmer amaranth, also known as pigweed. Many of the weedkillers they've used in the past don't work anymore. Weed expert Bob Scott says they're desperate for new tools. "If we didn't need this so bad, we wouldn't be having this conversation," he says.

    "Maybe in the back of their mind they thought, 'Well, I'm not going to hurt anything if I do [spray dicamba],' " says Tom Barber. "Some of these guys may have thought they didn't have an option, they had to use dicamba or they'd lose the crop. I don't know what they were thinking."

    Whatever the original motivation for buying Xtend seed, some scofflaw farmers did try to take advantage of it by spraying dicamba on their soybean fields. Swaths of vulnerable soybeans on neighboring fields are showing the damage. "There's a tremendous amount of injury on soybean fields," says Barber. There also are reports of damage to vegetable crops.

    Barber says farmers whose fields are damaged are especially angry, because they're already under economic stress because of low crop prices. "They see their soybeans out there all cupped up and stunted, their reaction is not good," Barber says. "We've seen cases of herbicide drift before. Usually the farmers work it out among themselves. But it's getting to the point now, it's made a lot of farmers upset with their neighbors. It's an unfortunate thing."

    More than 100 farmers in Missouri have filed formal complaints with the state's Department of Agriculture. In Arkansas, 25 complaints have been filed. If investigators decide that a farmer has sprayed dicamba illegally, the farmer can be fined. In Arkansas, the maximum fine for a violation is $1,000, but "our fines aren't stopping them," says Susie Nichols, who is in charge of pesticide regulation for Arkansas. State regulators are considering raising that to $5,000 or even more.

    Nichols says the Arkansas Plant Board also is considering new regulations that could drastically restrict the use of dicamba, even if the EPA does approve the use of Monsanto's new and reformulated version.

    Weed scientists from the University of Arkansas believe that the new version of dicamba also could damage nearby soybean fields. So if any farmers are permitted to use it on soybeans, other farmers may be forced to buy Monsanto's dicamba-resistant soybean varieties just to protect themselves.

    According to Barber, that threat is adding to farmers' frustration. "They're afraid that they're not going to be able to grow what they want to grow. They're afraid that they're going to be forced to go with that technology."

    There's one final and, for farmers, unwelcome twist to this story. If they do manage to limit dicamba's collateral damage, and start to use it widely, there's new evidence that the chemical may quickly become ineffective.

    Jason Norsworthy, a weed expert at the University of Arkansas, wanted to see if pigweed could evolve resistance to dicamba. In a greenhouse, he sprayed pigweed plants with light doses of dicamba — not enough to kill most of the plants, but enough to give an advantage to any individual plants that might be slightly resistant to the herbicide. He recovered seeds from surviving plants and repeated the process. After just three generations, he found pigweed plants that were able to survive full-dose sprays of dicamba. Most likely, the same process would occur rather quickly in field conditions, leaving farmers once again desperate for a new solution to their pigweed problem.

    Extension agent Robert Goodson says that in the long run, farmers in Arkansas may be forced to take a different approach to managing weeds, probably by growing different crops. Instead of soybeans, farmers may grow more sorghum, rice or other crops.

  • #2
    I was going to post what the Delta Farm Press has...but not sure anyone but Arkansas is having problems...

    ECI was NOT in favor of this development...for the reasons Delta has listed...I'll try to get them posted later tonight...having to much fun
    with politicians now to bother with something this important to all of us...producer or consumer..


    • #3
      the problems are showing up here first because of the 24d cotton one should not have bin released without the other the damage is mainly cotton drift now that is going to ruin it for everone---------------------------------------dave


      • #4
        Monsatan should not have been able to sell those dicamba beans, those fvkers know well that farmers would cheat and spray dicamba while they were told by them not to do so, but, farmers would then go to bat for them against the EPA and force them to register that application of there spray, these corrupt m o fo's will sue you if you keep there RR beans, like to see them try to hold you accountable for saving bin run dicamba beans without the registration for there spray. That bs. they espouse about yield rises is total bs. and its basically what there lawyers have told them to do and say and use farmers as fvktoys again in there quest to maximize there profits and police them in the whole process.My neighbor sprayed blackhawk on his burndown application while my beans were in there first trifoliate and he curled my beans up in an adjacent field.Luckily they grew out of it. Man was I pizzed!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        Last edited by Tom In Ont; 08-02-2016, 05:18 AM.


        • #5
          Stupid farmers...the dumbazz b a s t urds, what were they thinking...they weren't. Because of all the misuse of chemicals we now are entering a stage of "weeds that can't die" no matter what you spray on them. I watched in horror as the WORST farmers expanded using Roundup as the new do all of weed control. I have been raising NGMO beans and corn for 50 years and my fields are cleaner than the dumbazz farmers using roundup. Within a few short years wtf are they going to do. We have talked about going continuous corn because of this new technology and the havoc it will cause all soybean farmers as well as vegetable farmers and who knows what other farmers. In the last 10 years I've lost 15 bu/ac due to BANVEL over the top of GMO corn on HOT AZZ days. My BTO neighbor killed 6 rows of corn this year and I really don't know how much into this field was damaged spraying roundup on a day the wind blew 35 mph right at our field. This is unacceptable. I have never killed anyones crop since I started farming and I would think a man would have enough decency to come over and say Heh, I fvcked up your crop, tell me what I owe you. I can't believe how nobody cares about anything anymore except their bottom line. The dumb bas turds spray off label all the time. Makes me mad as hell. I hope those affected bring about a civil case to those who sprayed those chemicals and they lose their farms over it. Tempers are flaring up everywhere it seems when it comes to chemical abuse.


          • #6
            To start off - I agree with Tom - They should have NEVER ( They ) = Monsanto - Sold the seed beans in the first place ! I wrote over on Ag.Com that they should fine Monsanto a 100 million - but have since changed my mind - lets make it a cool quarter of a million ! The farmers should lose there spray license for life , as well as all family members on that farm - they must have all spraying done by a commercial applicator --- period ! There was NO reason for this to happen , but it did - to me - selling these guys beans was like handing a re- formed arsonist can of gas and a book of match's -

            Greg is also 100 % right -Man things have changed around here - Some farmers - many the big time fkers - think there above everybody else and spray in winds way to high - use the wrong nozzles - you name it - to get it done and if anybody's crop are in the way - well tuff chit !

            I did a custom job down by Shelbyville - I about chit the big one - I have never seen so many acres of beans banged up by some kind of 2-4-D - my guess is that it may have been Statis and fellows - I have sprayed a ton of Statis and never - never had it move - or drift over on somebody - also a guess is that they sprayed the corn with drops and when they lifted the booms up on the end rows - the wind caught it . One field I seen was around 40 acres - I had sprayed it many years ago - It was just not on the end rows , but they managed to bang up the whole field - I had a good view of it from the Hagie as I drove by it - twice - The guy I sprayed for even had a field banged up - I asked who did the spraying - he didn't know or just didn't say - Said it happens every year around there = that bs to me .

            GREG1 asked -- what were they thinking - they weren't - I totally disagree on that statement - they dam well knew what they were thinking and that's why the brought it in the first place - they had a problem and beated that they would clear it by the time they needed to spray - They had a target , a problem child that were costing them money and the rolled the dice and they lost !

            Now - I will say - in defense of Monsanto - Dow - Who every - that It's a lot easier to genetically come up with a plant resistant to a chemical then devolving a new chemistry - that may not work - we have seen it years ago that there would be a new chemical come out and it was a flop ! ANd that flop cost them millions - today -I would hate to guess how much it would cost to bring one on line - billions ? this problem is was created by the EPA , Tree huggers and lawyers - Not saying that they do have to do a good job of testing it before release but some of this is way over board .

            I will still stand my ground here - I understand that in some areas that the X-end beans would be great to have - and save them and make them money - Yet it should have NEVER - NEVER - NEVER - been released ! And I will also go one record that this chemistry will be short lived -

            One last thing -- I do know for a fact that there were a lot of acres of these seed planted last year for this years seed - and as we know that didn't happen - they had the farmers store these beans on there farm - and then had to move them out to another location - If they do release them - I bet that first years seed is some good chit ! lol


            • #7
              Ken, good post. As farmers we complain about the EPA, and the time to develop new products. Unfortunately it is human nature to want to grow crops successfully. When resistant weeds happen we all want to use whatever tools are available.. But the rules on the labels are meant to be followed. There are products that prevent drift in windy conditions But there are limits to how windy it can be.

              Around here I remember 2-4-D being sprayed on oats fields and most of my Mothers flower and vegetable gardens would be wilted or dead. 2-4-D and Dicamba are very prone too kill non target plants far from where it was sprayed. Maybe the new formulation won't drift. But the old formula will still be available and cheaper. Farmers are risking losing new products by not following the rules.


              • #8
                We have entered a time when the acceleration of weeds resistant or highly tolerant to glyphosate (Roundup) and the PPOs like Flexstar, Cobra, Phoenix in soybeans is happening.

                Waterhemp resistant to both modes of action can likely be found in every section of farmland within many miles of my place.

                One ag retailer sent in samples of tall water hemp survivors of the post programs sprayed in this area to test for resistance.
                Over 90% were genetically resistant to Glyphosate.
                Over 60% were resistant to PPOs.
                Of the 60% resistant to PPOs, only one sample was not also resistant to Roundup.

                As these resistant weeds go to seed- The tall water hemp that is resistant or more tolerant to both the glyphosate and the PPO chemistries will rather quickly become an even more dominant version of tall water hemp that is currently in this area.
                We know these seeds are small enough they seem to move easily with flood water.
                We know birds spread these seeds.
                We know combines can have many of these seeds dribble out the back long after the plant they came from went through the combine.
                From what I have seen, I also suspect that the winds that drift snow move some of these small seeds with the snow.

                Yup, We are screwed.
                The dicamba option on soybeans is going to be a challenge due to setbacks from building sites and neighbors non resistant soybeans but for those who have lots of resistant weeds in next year's soy, the choices seem to be-
                - live with ever increasing tall water hemp populations in crops.
                - use RR2 Extend with a good plan for field borders (setbacks) and low drift air induction spray tips. Though weed size when spraying is important with dicamba with roundup, from the plots that I have seen, the spray window for great control with dicamba is bigger/wider than it is with other chemistries like the PPOs and Roundup and Liberty.
                - use well timed finicky Liberty, hope you don't get a soaking rain that causes delays when it is time to spray, hope the weeds are actively growing so you can kill them, use 20 gal of water per acre with high pressure plus small droplets, and be ready to give it another shot pretty quick if you miss some the first time.
                Last edited by jabber1; 08-04-2016, 10:17 AM.
                “Democracy is the worst form of government, -------------------------------except for all the others.”

                ― Winston S. Churchill


                • #9
                  lawyers will be the ones to reap the wind fall--------------------------------------dave


                  • #10
                    another note they have already found resistant dicamba weeds here---------------------------------------dave


                    • #11
                      Here many will go out of the way to do harm to another farmer, especially if it is on a rented farm next to them.


                      • #12
                        Wow. I'm glad I don't live in western Iowa. Around here the vast majority of farmers are good, decent folks.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Freedom farmer View Post
                          Wow. I'm glad I don't live in western Iowa. Around here the vast majority of farmers are good, decent folks.
                          Yep, same here. Most adjacent farm operators are good neighbors.
                          “Democracy is the worst form of government, -------------------------------except for all the others.”

                          ― Winston S. Churchill


                          • #14
                            This is from iadave's neck of the woods (not surprising)


                            • #15
                              Yeah, kids were invited to throw water balloons at the Hillary look alike. I'm mighty glad I'm not from western Iowa.