Weed Warriors: Mix It Up for Best Results

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By: Rhonda Brooks, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor

Multiple herbicides in the tank improves weed control

p52 Mix It Up for Best Results

Tank mixes improve the spectrum of weed control, says Tim Fransen.

The herbicide tank mix Tim Fransen used on corn and soybeans in 2012 cost one-third to half again as much as the two shots of glyphosate he traditionally used. But Fransen has no regrets making the additional investment, noting it’s more cost effective to prevent weeds than control them. The bigger challenge, he says, was figuring out what combination of herbicides to put in the tank.

“There are so many products out there now, with resistance coming in the past few years, it seems like every company has jumped on the bandwagon with new herbicides, premixes and rebranding of old products,” notes Fransen, who farms with his dad and uncle near Jackson, Minn.

Farmers are taking a closer look at using herbicide tank mixes to improve weed control, according to a recent poll conducted at the 2013 Commodity Classic by DuPont Crop Protection. Of the 130 farmers the company interviewed, more than half say they have changed their herbicide tank-mix strategies within the past three years.

“After years of relying on herbicide-tolerant crops and one herbicide mode of action, more growers are placing an emphasis on tank mixes again,” says Jenny Goodman, DuPont soybean herbicide portfolio manager.

Goodman says the farmer poll revealed several concerns regarding the use of tank mixes. The No. 1 worry, referred to as extremely or moderately challenging by respondents, was the ability to correctly mix and apply herbicides to prevent crop injury. Other issues that respondents reported

included accurately measuring herbicides; knowing how much product to use; successfully cleaning tanks and clogged spray nozzles; time-consuming processes; and confusing product labels.

Fransen acknowledges having some of the same concerns and says there is only one way to alleviate them: “You have to do your research.”

His research strategy starts with going online to check out articles, product labels and product-specific company literature. If he has questions, Fransen calls his crop protection salesman for help.

“Most are willing to work with farmers, give their opinion and advice, and even come to your farm, so don’t be shy about calling them up,” he advises.

“I also talk with my neighbors and other farmers in the area about what’s working for them or not working,” Fransen adds. “If they’re trying something different in their fields I try to see how it works out for them.”

Likewise, in 2012, Fransen’s neighbors had the opportunity to see how well his new tank-mix strategy worked. What they saw was improved performance. “The tank mix helped us get the weeds that glyphosate alone didn’t get,” he reports.

That’s a key take-home message for farmers who use a premix or tank mix of two or more herbicides, says Gordon Vail, technical product lead for Syngenta. He encourages farmers to determine whether the products they select offer multiple modes of action as well as no weed resistance issue for their geography.

“If one mode of action is an ALS inhibitor and you have ALS-resistant weeds, for instance, that means a two mode-of-action product essentially only has one mode of action that works against that weed,” Vail explains. “When you’re considering a herbicide, it’s important to think, ‘What components in this product are actually controlling the weeds I have at the time I’m spraying them?’”

Fransen says he used tank mixes in both corn and soybeans this past season and got improved control of cocklebur, giant foxtail, lambsquarters and glyphosate-resistant waterhemp. His herbicide program in corn was approximately $16 an acre in 2012, while his soybean program ranged from $18 to $20 an acre. His standard glyphosate program had been less than $10 an acre.

Proper Tank-Mix Procedures

Follow these guidelines to mix products and determine the sequence.

1. Fill the spray tank to at least 50% full. Run agitation.

2. Add any water conditioners.

3. Add any WDG; allow 10 minutes for complete dispersion.

4. Add any suspension-concentrate products.

5. Add any emulsifiable-concentrate products.

6. Add any soluble liquid products.

7. Fill the spray tank to nearly full.

8. Add any glyphosate-based products.

9. Add any adjuvants and fill the tank.

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