Help Save Glyphosate

Glyphosate has been called the world’s greatest herbicide because its overwhelming use and acceptance has made it the most widely used product on the market today.  Dr. Stephen Powles, world-renowned expert on weed resistance, takes it one step further by saying that glyphosate is to weed control in agriculture as penicillin is to disease and infection treatment in medicine.  Both are considered miracle products and given the distinction of being a “once-in-a-100 year discovery.”

So what can be done to help preserve the use of this wonderful chemistry?  According to many weed scientists in the Upper Midwest, there are some basic steps that every farmer should take to prevent the onslaught of glyphosate-resistant weeds:

  • Know your weeds and know your fields. Closely monitor problem areas with tough-to-control weeds or what may be considered escapes or misses.
  • Start with clean fields. Use tillage, residual herbicides and/or burndown applications of herbicides to control all emerged weeds before planting.
  • Apply herbicides correctly. Proper application methods and rates are crucial to season-long control.  The three most important factors are timing, timing and timing!
  • Control weed escapes. Because of the long-term ramifications of this problem, farmers can no longer be satisfied with “economic thresholds” of weed control.
  • Reduce the seed bank. Surviving weeds must not be allowed to set seed and thereby become the dominant weed species.
  • Clean equipment. Prevent the spread of these resistant weeds at all cost.

No single tactic will protect the potential crop yield nor deter the evolution of herbicide-resistant weed populations, said ISU Extension Crop Weed Specialist Mike Owen, in a blog article he posted earlier this season. Be proactive and manage herbicide resistance before it becomes a major problem. Diversity of tactics is the key to consistent weed management and high crop yields.