Northern No-Tillers Fear Herbicide-Tolerant Crops May Encourage More Tillage

The hangover impact of controlling resistant volunteer plants in the future has these no-tillers worried.

Some zero-tillers in Manitoba are taking a sober second look at herbicide-tolerant crops and the impact they might have on the economics of their no-till systems.

While the research data shows farmers growing these crops typically have lower weed-control costs in the year of production, it is the potential hangover effect of controlling resistant volunteers in subsequent years that has some no-till farmers worried.

In fact, they were so worried that earlier this year they took a resolution to the Manitoba/North Dakota Zero Tillage Farmers Association annual workshop in Minot, N.D., which was debated and passed unanimously. It was a highly unusual move for an organization that focuses on providing information and support to farmers about conservation tillage.

The resolution called for a delay on the release of Roundup Ready wheat varieties until the agronomic, as well as marketing issues, are addressed.

“There’s a big concern out there in our group,” says Jerry Blotter, a Coleharbor, N.D., zero-tiller who completed his term in January as the group’s president.

Market, Agronomic Worries

Blotter says the group’s members are worried not only about the market impact, but also by the agronomics. “There is potential for it being a weed-control issue for us, especially in a zero-till system. That was at the forefront of people’s minds when they brought this resolution forward,” he says.

No-tillers in Canada rely heavily on non-selective herbicides, chiefly glyphosate, as a pre-seeding burnoff. But, with 80 percent of prairie canola acres now sown to herbicide-tolerant varieties, half of…

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