My applicator license hours reset last year. I’m just beginning to collect another 20 hours of learning credits.
While most of the information is review, there are ever-changing regulations and new products.
The biggest topic this year was the dicamba resistant soybeans. Extensive time was spent teaching herbicide application guidelines. Warnings of penalties for using off label applications of older dicamba products were also plentiful.
Bottom line for the farmer is this: many commercial applicators are weary of making applications. Some are refusing, others are charging double or triple the standard rate.
Weed resistance in the spotlight
In this era, weed resistance also garners a good bit of time. New maps of confirmed existence of resistant marestail, palmer and waterhemp were displayed. Herbicide options for control were discussed. Some growers have hired migrant crews to remove problem weeds at $7-21 per acre. Indeed, this brought us back to dicamba resistant soybeans. We are once again going to be 100% non-GMO, however the slides revealed an additional chemistry I may add to our in-crop application. We have already reworked our program due to burr cucumber. We may be nearing the end of non-GMO soybeans unless we get better weed control this year and premiums bounce back a bit.
I'll summarize the next segment in a brief statement: don't apply nitrogen in the fall for next year's crop.
Nematodes were also a topic. We were chastised for declining submissions of samples. We were also reminded how to collect a proper sample. The only thing missing was remedies for the yield robbing pests. We know we have them in corn and soybeans, but if there aren't any practical solutions, we're not going to spend time sampling.
Sulfur on soybeans
Research has shown for the second year in a row that 20 pounds of sulfur has a very good return on soybeans. This can be done pre or early season with dry products, but in crop sequential foliar applications showed similar returns.
The final segment of the day was focused on safety. Fred Whitford and crew took a drone and cameras out and followed a commercial applicator for a day on the roads and highways. The main point was, get there safely and watch out for the other guy and what they may do. Having had a motorcycle drive under my sprayer last summer, I know firsthand the lunacy we can encounter on the roadways. It takes focus to keep safe.
Though I seldom appreciate sitting through a day of class, usually I come out with something interesting. Hopefully you too can find some value too.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.