Study: GE crops not driving herbicide-resistant weeds, but still cause for concern

In a new study, published in the December 2017 issue of the journal Weed Science, University of Wyoming weed scientist Andrew Kniss finds that GE corn does not produce increased herbicide resistance in weeds relative to non-GE crops, but that soybean and cotton plantings do — but only to a limited extent. (No paywall)

Dicamba damage increases; retailers says it’s difficult to control

Most of the pesticide retailers who took part in an Illinois trade association poll reported damage from the weedkiller dicamba even when the weedkiller was sprayed in good conditions, says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting (MCIR). Separately, the University of Missouri said the herbicide was blamed for damage to 3.6 million acres of soybeans as of Oct. 15, a 16 percent increase from its Aug 10 tally.

John Deere buys maker of sharpshooting farm bots

John Deere’s $305 million purchase of Blue River Technology, “a startup that makes robots capable of identifying unwanted plants, and shooting them with deadly, high-precision squirts of herbicide,” is yet another indication of the “growing appetite for high tech in agriculture,” says Wired.

Dicamba is ‘tremendous success,’ says Monsanto; EPA mulls rule change

Monsanto chief technology officer Robb Fraley says there will be enough dicamba-tolerant seed available to account for half of U.S. soybean plantings next year. At the same time that EPA reportedly is considering new guidelines on use of the weedkiller, Fraley described dicamba as a "tremendous success" for "the overwhelming majority of farmers using" the low-volatility formulation of the herbicide.

Monsanto took active role in glyphosate safety review

Dozens of internal emails "reveal how Monsanto worked with an outside consulting firm to induce" a scientific journal "to publish a purported 'independent' review of Roundup's health effects that appears to be anything but," says Bloomberg Businessweek. The review, published as a supplement by Critical Reviews in Toxicology, rebutted the conclusion by the International Agency for Research on Cancer that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller, is probably carcinogenic to humans.

Arkansas panel approves fines up to $25,000 for dicamba misuse

The bicameral Arkansas Legislative Council approved an emergency rule allowing fines of up to $25,000 for "egregious" misuse of the weedkiller dicamba, the object of 550 complaints of crop damage, says KUAR-FM in Little Rock. The council, sometimes called the Legislature's most powerful committee because it oversees the executive branch of state government, is expected to decide on Friday whether to ban use of dicamba on cotton and soybeans for the rest of the growing season.

Arkansas plant board to try again Friday on dicamba vote

Due to a procedural error on Tuesday, the Arkansas state plant board will re-vote on Friday on whether to temporarily ban use of the weedkiller dicamba, suspected of drifting out of cotton and soybean fields to damage neighboring crops, reported DTN. Some 167 complaints alleging misuse of the herbicide, mostly along the eastern edge of Arkansas, were filed with the state board as of midday Wednesday.

A new tactic against herbicide-resistant weeds — narrow windrow burning

Farmers in Arkansas are experimenting with a weed-control tactic from Australia, called narrow windrow burning, to combat weeds that have developed resistance to herbicides. The scorched-earth technique dramatically reduces the weed seeds that sprout in the spring to challenge row crops, says Farm Journal.

Blasting weeds with air-powered farm residue

A USDA agronomist in Minnesota has invented an air-powered device that shoots out farm residues — "from seed meals to nut shells, fruit pits, and corn cob grits" — at weeds and pulverizes them while leaving corn shoots standing tall, reports Modern Farmer. Dried chicken manure is a current favorite to target the pesky plants. “We can weed and feed at the same time,” Frank Forcella told the magazine.

Plant communication – a tool of parasites?

A scientist from Virginia Tech has discovered a way that plants communicate with each other at the molecular level. The research could provide a way to fight parasitic weeds that attack food crops, says the university.

Climate change is major agricultural challenge, report says

U.S. farmers will face more dry spells, shorter winters and hotter nights under climate change in coming decades, says the National Climate Assessment. Warmer weather can abet the spread of weeds, diseases and pests, says the report.