Earlier this year, I thought no-tiller Brian Hildebrand brought up a thoughtful point about weed and disease stewardship as it relates to neighboring farms.

The veteran no-tiller from southern Alberta says he’s using varied herbicide chemistries, diverse crop rotations, appropriate populations and healthy crop stands to slow the creep of resistant kochia and keep his crops as free as he can of blackleg and clubroot. He suspects many other no-tillers are making the same effort.

But what happens when your neighbor doesn’t do that? He compares a farmer’s weed herbicide program to a gun that has a limited number of bullets, and once the bullets are gone, growers may be staring down resistant weeds and hear a “click” when they pull the trigger.

Kochia in western Canada has been found to be resistant to a few herbicides groups, and now resistance genes built into canola for blackleg are breaking down. The only solutions many farmers look to comes out of a bag or box, Hildebrand says, when they really need to be taking a step back and evaluating their management decisions as a whole.

“How do I respond? Because as a business person, as a farmer, I want to make sure I maximize the benefit of every tool in my toolbox, and every asset I have,” Hildebrand told attendees at the No-till on the Plains conference earlier this year. “So if that guy upwind from me is going to over-use that tool and screw it up, he’s going to go ‘bang-bang-bang-click.’ Well, then I have the problem, right? 

“So what do I need to do? Do I need to pull the trigger faster than him, so I get the maximum benefit of that tool? Or do I do the right thing? And I don’t know if there’s a right answer.”

So which type of farmer are you? Do you mix up your approach to controlling weeds and crop diseases by using different modes of action, crop rotation, tighter canopies and the like? Or are you putting new technologies on the fitness treadmill as soon as they’re released?

Tell me what you think about this issue.