Herbicide know-how value shot up at crop conference

Duane Dailey

The 2017 Crop Management Conference gained value more than ever this year.

The MU Extension winter meeting of the year drew some 300 to Columbia last week. More farmers must hear the ideas for the coming crop year.

The keynote was on “The Dicamba Dilemma: Where to…”

The two-day fee for farmers is $100. Long ago, I worried that cost would cut attendance.

A farmer set me straight: “If I don’t learn to grow more bushels of soybeans to pay for that, I wasted my time coming.”

That was before beans doubled in price.

As Kevin Bradley, MU Extension weed scientist, told how to avoid off-target damage from herbicide, the dollar value of safety shot up. The Missouri Department of Agriculture released news of fines on the first damage to neighbors’ crops.

The fines ranged from $1,500 to $62,250. Heeding Bradley’s words of advice worth gained right then. Every soybean farmer must learn the cost of stray herbicide. That’s from using the wrong chemical or not applying it right.

There were many more hours of teaching than Bradley’s keynote. But, he got worked up over missteps made last crop year. New rules apply this year.

At the meeting, leaflets announced in-person meetings coming in January.

Those state fines announced covered just a few early off-target killings in 2016 in one county. Many more fines, probably huge, will come. Learning correct usage becomes profitable.

More serious than money are conflicts brought between neighbors. Already one gunshot death has been alleged for off-target damage.

Between meetings, an MU agronomist told me of alleged damage to a 1,700-acre soybean field in the Missouri River bottom. With the price of beans, think of dollar-loss potential there. Think of the potential fine?

His comment reminds me: Much learning comes from talks at breaks and meal times. At lunch, I learned a major use of aerial drones in Southwest Missouri: Looking for lost cows.

Know-how has value, big time. That’s in growing more yields or preventing crop loss.

Every soybean grower benefited from hearing Melissa Mitchum’s message. She’s an MU scientist studying the Soybean Cyst Nematode. This almost invisible “worm” sucks nutrients from roots. It’s all hidden in the soil. Unseen, they sap yields.

A new survey shows 84 percent of growers don’t know they have cyst nematodes. That’s serious lost yields, millions and millions of dollars. Most growers using the cure are misusing it. That’ll end up like misuse of herbicides that developed resistant pigweeds and waterhemp.

It was resistant weeds that led to development of the super-killer herbicide that now injures crops far from the point of application.

Some didn’t get the word on proper prevention. Attending these winter meetings can cut problems, before they start.

Know-how has value. That’s what MU Extension provides. Yet at a time when we see that added value, real dollars are cut to education. How soon will promised trickle-down dollars arrive?

The crop conference gave a lot more: There’s soil health. Water management. Aerial drones. Ag drought alert. Plant drought resistance. Oh, so much more.

Crop Management Conference is past. Applicator trainings are ahead.

For beef cattle producers, there are know-how sessions at the Missouri Cattleman’s Association meeting in Columbia, Jan. 5-7.

A special meeting on Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers will lead off Jan. 5. Next day there’s a cattlemen’s college where MU Extension specialists share money-making ideas.

Those who followed SMS heifer sales this fall picked up the idea that proven management and top genetic pays. Sales only begin to tell the story. For the investment, returns can be huge.

I must mention: Cow know-how has value? It’s big dollar value. It all starts at the MU Extension Center in each county. The dollar support comes from county, state, and federal funds.

For some reason, even Extension leaders can miss the point of know-how value.

Tell your story at duanedailey7@gmail.com or 511 W. Worley, Columbia, Mo., 65203.