In granting a limited exemption to a ban on myclobutanil herbicides, the Environmental Protection Agency may have taken the first step toward arming farmers with additional chemicals they could use to fight the potentially devastating soybean rust disease, which is expected to arrive in the United States in the near future.
The EPA granted a so-called Section 18 exemption for the use of myclobutanil-based fungicide in Minnesota and South Dakota. However, the product can be used only after soybean rust has been confirmed in the continental U.S. by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Even then, growers would be restricted to two applications of myclobutanil.
The exemption is the first of its kind for use against soybean rust, but Dow AgroSciences says it is working with other states to gain similar exemptions. Dow manufactures the myclobutanil-based Laredo EC and Laredo.
Other fungicide producers, university agronomists and the American Soybean Association are also working to gain exemptions for other products that could be used against the disease.
Soybean rust, which can cause total yield loss if not controlled early, has infected much of the Southern Hemisphere, including South America and Hawaii.