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Know the new rules for dicamba technologies

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Rules surrounding new weed-fighting technologies don’t make for a short, or uncomplicated, list, says Ples Spradley.

First off, “Applications of products (Xtendimax, Enlist Duo and Engenia) shall not be made to Enlist or Xtend seed technologies without’” completing new training, the Arkansas Extension pesticide safety education specialist told the crowd at the recent Pigposium 3 in Forrest City, Ark. “If you’re an applicator – private, commercial, non-commercial or commercial applicator technician – and will use those herbicides on those technologies, you must go through our training. The new regulations state that you cannot apply Xtendimax in Arkansas between April 15 and September 15, with a limited exception for pasture applications.”

To buy these products “you must have a restricted use pesticide license because they’re state restricted use. To apply them to the crops with the new technologies, you must take and pass our training.”

Burndown applications or applications not made to Enlist or Xtend crops don’t require this training.

Besides the training modules, there are two tests; one on 2,4-D and one on dicamba. To pass, you must score a 90 on each. (Note: the tests and more information can be found at: http://bit.ly/AR-Engenia-Enlist)

To take advantage of the online course, “the first thing you do is go to the page and set up an account. After setting up an account a link to the training will be sent by e-mail. You’ll then need to register for the training.

“The training is designed to save your spot if you need to take a break or can’t complete it in one sitting. Total time for the course and tests is probably 90 minutes to two hours.”

Read labels

Spradley strongly recommends reading the labels of the Enlist Duo, Xtendimax, and Engenia before taking the course. “There are very specific requirements for applying the herbicides beyond the state regulations.”

The course provides a link to each of the labels so they can be downloaded before starting the training.

In many cases, Arkansas regulations supersede the label because they’re more stringent. Still, if the label and the Arkansas regulations differ you must follow the more stringent requirements.

“The Engenia and Xtendimax labels require, with limited exceptions, that you must have a 110-foot buffer downwind from the outer edges of the field (Xtendimax requires 220 feet for the 44-ounce rate). This amounts to an in-field buffer zone. Don’t spray either of the products if specialty crops are adjacent and downwind from the application site.”

For Engenia use, Arkansas requires a 100-foot buffer zone in every direction with sensitive crops – not just downwind. “You also must have to be a quarter-mile downwind buffer from sensitive areas and sensitive crops. A sensitive area can be defined in many different ways and is not limited to agricultural crops. To spray, wind speed cannot exceed 10 miles per hour. Also, don’t spray if less than 3 miles per hour due to the possibility of temperature inversions.”

The Arkansas regulations state that all tank mixes must be approved by the Plant Board. A recent decision by the Plant Board allows the use of tank mixes listed on the registrants’ websites.

Respirators and old formulations

Engenia also requires a dust/mist respirator. “Due to the recently revised Worker Protection Standards, applicators must have a medical evaluation and a fit test for the specific respirator chosen. Contact Jason Robertson at the Plant Board for more information.”

The new Arkansas regulations forbid the use of older dicamba formulations, such as Banvel, except in pastures. “For use on pastures you must have a one-mile buffer in all directions from susceptible crops.”

Spradley said it is “very important” to note from April 15 to September 15, “you can’t use Xtendimax, Clarity or Status unless it’s in a pasture (same buffer zone requirements as Banvel).

“Illegal applications can be a public relations disaster. We’ve seen some of that in Arkansas and that’s one of the reasons the Plant Board has taken the steps it has.”

Increased fines?

The Arkansas Plant Board is attempting to get the maximum fine for illegal applications increased from $1,000 to $25,000 per offense. “Two applicators who illegally applied dicamba in 2015 were called before the Plant Board this year for enforcement actions. Each applicator faced four violations for each application. They paid the maximum of $4,000 whereas, if the new fines go through, they could pay $100,000 for similar offenses in the future.

“EPA is also looking at the illegal dicamba applications that occurred in the past two years in northeast Arkansas, the Bootheel of Missouri and western Tennessee. There may be additional enforcement actions taken as a result.”

Applicators need to be aware that insurance may not cover losses for illegal applications. “So, you could be looking at severe penalties and years of litigation on damages you cause.

Don’t jeopardize technology

“We could lose these needed technologies if applicators don’t practice the proper stewardship. The EPA didn’t provide a long-term registration for the products and could reexamine and cancel the registrations if problems continue.”

There are minimum water volumes required for the new products (in most cases 10 gallons per acre). “That may be tough for some applicators used to using significantly less gallons of water per acre.

“There are also very specific requirements for nozzles and nozzle pressures. The list of acceptable nozzles has been growing. So check the labels and the company websites closely for the specified nozzles and operating pressures.

“Physical drift isn’t going away with the new lower volatility formulation changes. Therefore, we must be very careful with boom height, wind speed and direction, gallons per acre, and using the right nozzle at the right pressure. There’s a 24-inch boom height limit above the target for the new dicamba products and you can’t exceed 15 miles per hour ground speed.”

Additionally, “you must clean out your spray tanks properly to avoid damage as you change products and spray other crops. To their credit, the labels provide precise directions on how to do that so read the information very closely. The proper tank clean-out takes a while – allow plenty of time. It is critical to do the cleaning correctly and get everything out of the system. A simple flushing with just water and/or air just won’t do the job.”

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