Greg LaPlante, GL Crop Consulting, Wahpeton, N.D., says you need you may need to gear up to be successful in keeping herbicide resistant weeds from spreading onto your land.
LaPlante says to:.
1) Make a spreadsheet to keep track of the rotation of crops and the modes of action of the chemicals you are going to use on the field. LaPlante made one himself. It’s a handy tool that simplifies the complicated task of rotating compounds with different modes of action, he says (See example.)
2) Plan the logistics. If you are going to add Liberty Link soybeans to your rotation, and begin using preplant, pre-emerge and layby herbicides, you are probably going to need another sprayer. Separate corn and soybean sprayers may be called for. Because you to apply a lot more water with Liberty than Roundup, you probably also need a bigger water truck or more water trucks. Your herbicide plan has to work on concert with you asset management plan, LaPlante says. In today’s economy, you probably need to figure out what assets you can sell to upgrade your herbicide equipment, such as seldom used tillage equipment and tractors.
3) Be dedicated about scouting. “I’m scouting a soybean or sugarbeet field 18 to 20 times a season,” he says.
4) Find an alternate use for marginal lands. Rather than fighting weeds on marginal croplands, losing money because you can’t get enough yield and growing even more weeds, take the marginal ground out of production. Barley is a good alternative for saline soils. Grass is a good option for frequently wet or flooded land. If nothing else you might be able to breakeven on a barley or hay crop. At the same time you will be preventing the spread of saline areas and the weeds that go with them.
5) Get out the mower. When you have weed patches get away from you, and there are too many to pull by hand, mow them to prevent the spread of seed. The worst thing you can do is put the weeds through the combine because the combine will just spread the seed. A strip will become a patch, and if the weeds are resistant to the herbicide you are using, the patch could choke out a field in as little as three years.
6) Consider cover crops. Cereal rye will suppress weeds in the fall and the spring prior to planting the next crop. Due to the competition they provide, covers crops will prevent weeds that sprout from getting big quickly. They will be weaker and easier to control with herbicide in the crop.
7) Don’t just look at the how much more it is going to cost to have a program that keeps resistant species from spreading. Consider how much you stand to lose if weeds get out of control. “It is a problem that could put you out of business in the next several years,” LaPlante says. “It happened in Arkansas. If you start adding $30-$40 per acre in weed control costs, plus start losing yield, you can go under pretty darn quickly.”
8) If you are getting close to retirement, don’t think you can get by another year or two with what you are doing now without it affecting you financially. Land with a herbicide resistant weed problem won’t bring top dollar. If you are renting or selling to a relative and price isn’t a major concern, “do you really want to push the problem onto them?” LaPlante asks.
9) Waiting for new technology to solve the problem is poor plan. It isn’t going to happen. Over use of a new trait will give rise to a weed population resistant to that trait, too. You’ll have one less tool to use.
“Weed control isn’t simple anymore,” LaPlante concludes. “It is going to take a systems approach.”