The soybean checkoff has launched a new program to help stop the spread of resistant weeds. Mark Seib, a Posseyville, IN, soybean grower and member of the United Soybean Board, says the reason is weed resistance is hurting the supply of soybeans, “These resistant weeds are reducing supply by cutting yields. We need to make farmers aware of this issue and that these weeds are spreading.” Globally, more than 430 weeds have been reported with resistance to certain herbicides, according to the International Survey of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds.
To help farmers fight these weeds, USB partnered with numerous organizations, including the Indiana Soybean Alliance, Purdue, and the private sector, to establish an industry-wide partnership to help farmers manage herbicide resistance. Universities across the country, major herbicide providers, and six farmer-led commodity organizations have teamed up to encourage farmers to proactively develop a weed management strategy.
The program is called “Take Action On Weeds.” According to Seib, the first action a grower can take is to learn to identify resistant weeds, “We need to identify these weeds when they are small, because once they get past a certain stage we do not have the ability to control them.” The web site www.TakeActionOnWeeds.com has resources to help growers identify resistant weeds. Mixing modes of action and rotating crops are other tools that can be used. Seib urges farmers to work with professionals to come up with a plan that works best on their farms, “Sit down with a consultant and look at your operation, the solution may be a simple one.” Seib says, on his farm, it was a matter of making some chemical changes on a few specific applications.
Even in the face of tougher weeds, Seib states all farmers have greatly decreased the amount of inputs used on their crops. “When my father was farming, he used gallons of herbicide for each acre,” says Seib. “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. And, like every other farmer, I want to pass my land down to the next generation in better condition than when I received it.” Even with these advancements, US crop losses due to uncontrolled weeds amount to more than $8 billion annually, according to the Ohio and Indiana Weed Control Guide, a tool put out by the Purdue University and Ohio State University extension services. That number alone exceeds the entire state of Indiana’s soybean production value, which is $3.3 billion.
Seib says that’s just one example of how today’s soybean farmers continue to conserve natural resources and increase their sustainability performance. Over the last 30 years, U.S. soybean farmers have reduced soil erosion, greenhouse-gas emissions, and energy use, all while increasing yields by 53 percent, according to a soy-checkoff-funded report. “With my family living on the farm and neighbors on either side, I don’t want to expose them to any chemicals, so I only use what’s necessary,” says Seib. “US farmers are growing the healthiest and safest soybeans in the world – for our customers and the environment.”