Damage ranges from family gardens to thousands of acres of untreated soybeans
EXCERPT: John Seward, a vegetable farmer near Aurora, said herbicide drift from his neighbor's soybeans killed half his crops and sank into the potatoes, sweet peas, and tomatoes that he had hoped to sell at farmers markets this summer. "A lot of this stuff is just rotting out in the field. It stinks to high heaven," Seward said. "We're just at a total loss."
Hundreds of S.D. farmers, gardeners report damage from herbicide drift
Argus Leader, 28 Sept 2017
Hundreds of South Dakota farmers and gardeners have reported damage to crops and plants from herbicide drift, according to data compiled by the state.
As of Tuesday, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture had received 212 reports of damage in areas next to soybean fields treated with the herbicide dicamba. They ranged from family gardens to thousands of acres of untreated soybeans.
The reports show how widespread damage claims are in South Dakota. The herbicide, used for weed control, may have affected crops and plants in 37 counties, with the bulk of cases harming soybean crops.
State agriculture officials are surveying the damage and testing damaged plants to determine if they were hit by dicamba products. Agriculture Secretary Mike Jaspers said he is weighing whether the state will allow three dicamba products, Engenia, FeXapan and Xtendimax, for use in 2018.
The Monsanto Company weed killer sold under different brand names by BASF and DuPont has been banned in Arkansas and reviewed by U.S. regulators over concerns that it can drift or vaporize and move.
The companies have heard from thousands of concerned growers across the country, spokespeople said this week, and are working to better educate them on the proper use of the herbicides ahead of the 2018 planting season.
Growers most often cite improper application of the herbicide as the reason for cupping and veining of nearby crops and plants, said Scott Partridge, vice president of global strategy for Monsanto.
"All of that can be fixed by training and education," Partridge said. "This is all about making sure that 2018 is better than 2017."
Representatives for DuPont and BASF recommended that affected parties reach out to their companies' field representatives with concerns.
Across the country, farmers who used dicamba have said the weed killer's directions are too complicated to understand. And as a result, faulty applications and failure to abide by buffer zones have led to dicamba drift.
Farmers and interest groups have filed a class-action lawsuit against the companies alleging the instructions were too complicated for growers to follow, resulting in damage to nearby plants.
John Seward, a vegetable farmer near Aurora, said herbicide drift from his neighbor's soybeans killed half his crops and sank into the potatoes, sweet peas, and tomatoes that he had hoped to sell at farmers markets this summer.
"A lot of this stuff is just rotting out in the field. It stinks to high heaven," Seward said. "We're just at a total loss."
Ahead of 2018, Seward said he is looking to build a better barrier to block herbicide drift, though he's hopeful that efforts to convince the state not to allow the dicamba products will take hold in Pierre. Until then, Seward said he will uproot all the plants hit by the drift and plant rye to win back some lost income.
"You should think about your neighbor when you're spraying something that could damage his livelihood," he said. "I don't think people understand the damage they can cause."
Dicamba Damage Reports
South Dakota counties with the most reports of dicamba drift damage
Spink - 17
Union - 17
Brown - 13
Clark - 11
Kingsbury - 10
Marshall - 10
Turner - 10
Beadle - 9
Day - 9
Lake - 9