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State Says Education Is The Best Defense From Dicamba Runoff

Ground rig sprayers like these are commonly used to apply dicamba to fields.

Indiana’s State Chemist Office has been busy ahead of the 2018 planting season preparing farmers to use the powerful herbicide dicamba.

The EPA approved a new type of dicamba in 2016 for use on cotton and soybeans. Following the approval, many states saw hundreds of drift exposures, which meant exposed crops would perish, because dicamba kills crops not genetically engineered to tolerate it.

As a result, the Office of Indiana’s State Chemist—which is the government agency tasked with overseeing herbicides—is investigating more than 130 cases where Dicamba drift has killed otherwise healthy soy beans.

“There are lots of ways [dicamba] can get off target,” David Scott, the Pesticide Administrator with the Office of Indiana’s State Chemist says.

Sometimes farmers use the applicators as recommended, but neighboring crops are still effected. Scott refers to this as volatility.

In response, the office has begun implementing training sessions for farmers who use dicamba.

He says while he understands some farmers are frustrated about a mandatory training, he believes it has many benefits.

“We’re very hopeful. We’ve never done anything like this before,” Scott says. “We’ve never focused so much attention and so much effort on a product – one product before.”

The mandated training is part of additional regulations from the federal government. Other restrictions include new record keeping and limiting how and when the herbicide is applied to fields.

CORRECTION: ​A previous version of this story used the term ‘runoff.’ It is more accurately described as ‘drift.’ We regret the error.

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