Farm Progress

Seed Science: Researchers did their homework and found a 2,4-D formulation that doesn't drift or volatilize onto sensitive crops.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

November 8, 2016

2 Min Read

When Dow AgroSciences introduced the concept of applying 2,4-D over corn and soybeans carrying a gene resistant to the herbicide, some of the most nervous people around were tomato growers. Tomatoes are very sensitive to 2,4-D if volatilization or drift occurs, and the herbicide carries from a target corn or soybean field to a nearby tomato field.


That’s why it was puzzling to follow Jonathan Siebert down an aisle at the Dow AgroSciences demonstration farm near Sheridan last summer and find a plot of tomatoes growing side by side with soybeans. Siebert is the Enlist Weed Control System sales leader. What’s more, a signboard indicated that Red Gold, a major tomato-processing company, cooperated in the demonstration project. What changed the attitude from being nervous about the Enlist technology to being supportive of demonstrating how it works?

New technology

The answer is all about the new technology Dow AgroSciences developed for the Enlist Weed Control System, Siebert says. After tons of research time in the lab, Dow AgroSciences researchers developed a formulation of 2,4-D that barely resembles the original herbicide in terms of properties.

“It’s all about the Colex-D technology in the formulation,” Siebert notes. “Off-target movement is less of a concern.”

What farmers need to realize, Siebert says, is that Enlist Duo herbicide that can be applied over Enlist corn and Enlist soybeans with resistance to 2,4-D does not move off-target easily, and does not volatize easily either. “There is near-zero volatility with this formulation,” he says.

Dow AgroSciences and Red Gold cooperated to put out the plot of tomatoes growing right next to the soybeans to prove that point. A couple of rows of soybeans without the Enlist trait were included to show the effect on plants without resistance, and to illustrate how minimal any off-target movement is. The Enlist soybeans were sprayed with Enlist Duo at the time a normal application would be made. The tomatoes would have been sensitive to off-target movement.

Lack of damage to the tomatoes proved the claim to be true. Leaves weren’t affected, and the plants grew normally. There was virtually no off-target movement into the tomato plot from the Enlist Duo application, Siebert says. 

Future use

The key will be following label directions whenever Enlist Duo is applied, Siebert says. The label specifies acceptable conditions for application.

It also specifies that only Enlist Duo with Colex-D technology is approved for application on Enlist corn and Enlist soybeans. Attempting to apply any other form of 2,4-D would make the application off-label and illegal, he notes.

It’s the technology behind the formulation that was developed in the lab that makes all the difference, he says. That’s what allows an application to be made near a sensitive crop such as tomatoes without risking injury.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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