Three new dicamba labels were released by the Environmental Protection Agency on October 31. Many mixed emotions followed these regulations. Regardless of your opinion, it is important to be informed on these new, complex regulations.
States are struggling to interpret and react to 2019 dicamba rules. Each rule is about 40 pages long and is accompanied by almost 200 pages of documents detailing registration requirements and potential impacts of the herbicide. States are working to understand and interpret these new labels to formulate a game plan.
For example, Indiana’s pesticide regulators decided to drop all state-mandated dicamba applicator training. This is in an attempt to cut down on state resources devoted to dicamba. Illinois has taken a different approach. Agencies in the Land of Lincoln are knocking on EPA’s doors trying to get clarification on the new requirements. For them, it could mean up to 5,000 applicators in the state aren’t qualified to apply these herbicides.
States have a short time frame of just a few months to prepare thousands of applicators and farmers for the 2019 spray season.
“Last year, we started dicamba training on Nov. 4,” said Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA). “We already had everything lined up ready to go, and it took us all winter doing 10 classes every week to get 11,000 people trained. And those 11,000 people are out there again, waiting, and we’re behind.”
EPA stated the label changes “were made to ensure that these products can continue to be used effectively while addressing potential concerns to surrounding crops and plants.”
At first glance, the label changes continue to address the ever-important issue of physical drift. However, the labels do little to address injury resulting from product movement by volatility.
Many are skeptical if the changes will be effective or just another hassle.
State by State
States are taking different approaches to over-the-top applications. Some states placed date application restrictions in 2018. Minnesota prohibited over-the-top applications on soybeans after June 20. In 2018, Minnesota received limited complaints of offsite dicamba movement. This is compared to states which did not have cutoff dates.
Per the new federal rules, soybeans planted on May 1 in states with no state date restrictions would fall within a June 20 application deadline, due to the 45-day window. However, soybeans planted on May 20 could have dicamba applied to it until July 4.
Applicator training helped reduce off-target movement, but it is not enough. For example, Illinois had no other state restrictions. As a result, they saw significant problems with dicamba movement.
The EPA will coordinate with states on applications through the 2020 season.
Time of Day
The new federal label also placed restrictions on the time of day dicamba can be applied. Regulations state dicamba applications are permitted from one hour after sunrise to two hours before sunset.
This is important because of temperature inversions as they can cause off-target movement. Researchers at the University of Missouri found temperature inversions from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Under new regulations, applications are only permitted when temperatures are cooler.
The Good, The Bad, The Questionable
Many mixed emotions surround the new regulations. Companies who manufacture the products are pleased with the new rules. Oppositely, many growers are not happy with the ruling. Additionally, researchers and scientists raised questions and concerns.
“The EPA is in a very difficult position in regulating this technology – whatever they do is going to be criticized by some people,” wrote Bob Hartzler, Iowa State University Extension weed specialist.
Experts are questioning the validity of some of the new regulations. For example, they stated many regulations are focused on the applicator and increased training. However, many scientists feel chemistry is the real issue at hand.
“Dicamba is dicamba and as of now, it moves where it is not supposed to go,” said Steve Smith, director of Red Gold (tomatoes).
Companies assure they will help farmers and applicators follow the label and spray on target. Company officials say they will work to ensure the success of customers.
However, disappointment still looms for many.
“We were advocating for a preplant-only label,” writes Smith. “This wouldn’t have totally stopped all the issues, as some trees, orchards, and vineyards would have already been leafed out, but it would have gone a long way toward reducing the problems to a more manageable level.”
Dicamba’s issues could also pose a threat to all pesticide applications. When there is a “bad egg” in the bunch, the whole group sometimes gets blamed. The issues dicamba presents may adversely impact public sentiment on crop protectant material.
Halloween brought jack-o-laterns, costumes and three new dicamba rules. The EPA issued complex, lengthy dicamba regulations. Many emotions surround these new rules. However, it is important to be aware of these new labels.
Image courtesy of Ag Professional