Mark Seib is using fewer inputs to control weeds on his farm in Posey county than his father or grandfather did, and by a huge margin. He's doing it even though resistant weeds and new weeds, like Palmer amaranth, are making weed control more difficult than it has been since Roundup Ready soybeans were introduced nearly 20 years ago.
"When my father was farming, he used gallons of herbicides per acre each year," Seib, a member of the United Soybean Board of directors, says. "Now with advancements the industry has made, I use less than an ounce to the acre for some herbicides and insecticides to provide the same level of protection against weeds and insects.
"Like every farmer, I want to pass my land down to the next generation in better condition that when I received it."
Today that doesn't just mean with as much soil as it once had, obtained by practicing soil conservation to prevent soil erosion. It also means controlling weeds and holding down or minimizing the seed bank of weeds so that the land is still farmable in 20 years.
To help farmers fight weed resistance, Seib says USB partnered with numerous organizations, including the Indiana Soybean Alliance, Purdue University and the private sector, to establish a campaign called 'Take Action.' It's a partnership to help spread the word about how farmers can prevent and/or manage herbicide resistance.
Bill Johnson, Bryan Young and Travis Legleiter, Purdue weed control specialists, have been active in this effort. They provided information to help develop materials distributed to farmers, and helped distribute them once they were produced.
The first step is to identify threatening weeds, such as Palmer amaranth. Purdue helps conduct research on a plot in Cass County infested with Palmer amaranth.
A recent field day demonstrated there are ways to control it, although they involve more expense than in the past. Palmer amaranth is considered resistant to glyphosate herbicide.
Paul Spooner of USB contributed to this story.