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Alternative systems of weed control are gaining ground on glyphosate.

Glyphosate and Sustainability

There was a time when spraying the vast majority of U.S. soybean acreage with glyphosate made perfect sense. The herbicide worked. It killed problem weeds and prevented them from robbing soil nutrients from soybeans and corn, among many other staple crops being grown.

Glyphosate-resistant broadleaves, such as Palmer pigweed, giant ragweed and waterhemp, appeared on the scene, and suddenly glyphosate wasn't the solve-all it had once been. Then glyphosate-resistant broadleaves appeared on the scene: Palmer pigweed, giant ragweed, waterhemp. Suddenly, glyphosate wasn’t the solve-all it had once been. In fact, as growers—and numerous agricultural biotechnology companies—quickly realized, they were faced with a race against the clock of glyphosate resistance. Either they would have to develop more effective alternatives to glyphosate, or growers would watch their fields become overrun by increasingly resistant biotypes.

With the growing resistance to glyphosate and the launch of programs like Respect the Rotation™ from Bayer CropScience, which promotes diversity in weed management programs, the concept of sustainable weed management is growing in popularity. The message holds particular appeal for soybean growers, who are facing increasing weed resistance across the South.

Either growers would have to develop more effective alternatives to glyphosate, or they would watch their fields become overrun by increasingly resistant biotypes.

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Proven Alternatives

Many growers are planting varieties with the LibertyLink® trait and applying Liberty® herbicide in-season. With varieties available in soybean, cotton, corn and canola, LibertyLink and Liberty offers the only nonselective alternative to glyphosate systems. This system lets growers diversify their herbicide portfolio by diversifying their herbicide applications and reducing selection pressure on resistant biotypes. Eighty-four percent of 2009 growers reported that LibertyLink soybeans met or exceeded yield expectations.

Here’s how it works.

LibertyLink allows the soybean plant to tolerate Liberty, which means growers can enjoy the same over-the-top convenience they enjoy with glyphosate herbicides. As a powerful post-emergence herbicide, Liberty effectively controls hard-to-manage glyphosate-resistant weeds, including ragweeds, waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, as well as ALS-resistant weeds.

Delivering at Harvest

LibertyLink soybeans have performed well too, delivering outstanding yields for growers across the country. Eighty-four percent of 2009 growers reported LibertyLink soybeans met or exceeded yield expectations. FiberMax® cotton seed varieties with LibertyLink have also delivered excellent yields and the premium lint quality that global markets demand. In corn, the LibertyLink trait is widely available, while InVigor® canola hybrids with LibertyLink consistently deliver excellent crop establishment, harvestability and yields.

The future of farming will not resemble its past, but with smart alternatives to glyphosate, the viability of herbicide technologies—and the profitability that comes with them—can continue to thrive.

Discuss next season's planting options with your Bayer CropScience representative.

Works Cited

  • Pocock, John. “Herbicide rotation sparks performance.” Agriculture.com. Meredith Corporation, 15 Dec. 2010. Web. 12 June 2011.
  • “New LibertyLink Soybeans Arrive.” BayerCropScience.us. Bayer CropScience, n.d. Web. 15 June 2011.
  • The Bayer CropScience Family of Sites. Bayer CropScience. Web. 14 June 2011.
  • Kelly Research Group, Inc. “LibertyLink Soybean Satisfaction and Usage Intentions Study.” Survey. 2010. Print. 8 Nov. 2011.

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