According to seed company sales data, this year more farmers may be trying glufosinate, the active ingredient in Bayer CropScience's Liberty herbicide.
Sale of Liberty crops, especially Liberty soybeans, are up for many companies. They see it as farmers searching for ways to control weeds that are becoming resistant to methods which have worked before, including glyphosate applications.
Both glyphosate and glufosinate are broad-spectrum herbicides, but that is where the products part ways:
Glyphosate is systemic, meaning the leaves can soak it in, and it does its work once it is absorbed into the plant.
Glufosinate, the ingredient in Liberty, is contact-based, says Arlene Cole, Development Manager for Bayer CropScience. It must contact the leaves, and kills tissue that it comes in contact with. It begins to show signs of action within 3 to 4 days, faster than glyphosate, but it must be applied differently than glyphosate for good results.
STOP: How to make Liberty herbicide work
"We like to put it into an acronym," Cole says. "We call it 'STOP' for stop weeds. Each letter is important in how to apply the product properly for best results in weed control during the season."
• The 'S' stands for starting early, Cole says. This isn't a program where you can make it a last-minute thought. Have your plan and be ready to go and implement the plan once growing conditions are right.
• The 'T' represents targeting weeds at 3 inches in height. That likely means carrying a tape measure because most farmers tend to underestimate weed height, she notes. Just because you have brought down bigger weeds with the chemical before doesn't mean it's the best approach for using it for the future.
• "O' is for optimal coverage. It's the lynchpin to good control, she says. Use nozzles that deliver medium-droplet size and a minimum of 15 gallons of water per acre. The herbicide must contact the leaf surface to be effective.
• Finally, 'P' means partner it with a good residual herbicide. The goal is to get multiple modes of action in the field.