Crop Production: Too Much of a Good Thing is Not a Good Thing

Husker Home Place

Resistance issues abound in modern crop production, so the answer is to use everything in moderation.

Published on: August 20, 2013

In recent weeks, I’ve attended University of Nebraska Extension and Nebraska Soybean Board herbicide-resistant weed workshops and soybean management field day events. Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard at least 20 different speakers at two dozen different crop production events talk about resistance issues in weeds, insects and diseases in crops. It is one of the biggest challenges for modern agriculture and crop production, but fortunately, this is not an obstacle that cannot be overcome.

I suppose UNL researchers could say to farmers, “I told you so.” They aren’t saying that, but they could. They have been warning us about resistance issues if we rely too heavily on a single mode of action or active ingredient in herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. They told us more than 15 years ago that too much of a good thing is not a good thing in the long run.

TALKING PRODUCTION: UNL Extension plant pathologist, Loren Giesler (center), discusses disease and fungicides at UNL Soybean Management Field Day near Pierce.
TALKING PRODUCTION: UNL Extension plant pathologist, Loren Giesler (center), discusses disease and fungicides at UNL Soybean Management Field Day near Pierce.

We needed to mix it up. We couldn’t get too comfortable using one specific system. It might be easier, but it would not be good for our farms down the road. Now, here we are more than a decade later and the message is still being driven home. But now we aren’t talking about single resistance issues to one herbicide for weeds. We are talking about superweeds that are resistant to multiple herbicides and herbicide groups. That is a little scary, particularly if herbicides are your only tool to beat up on weeds.

However, all is not lost. According to agronomists and crop production specialists, all we need is a little change, a little rotation, a step back to traditional chemistries and time-honored non-chemical strategies to step forward in beating resistance issues and maintaining chemistries for future use.

I’m sure that you will hear this message again and again at crop meetings this fall and winter and for the next several years. Rotate, rotate, rotate. These aren’t my words. They are the words of the experts. But, as we see weeds popping up where they shouldn’t be, and we know of more diseases and insects that can beat our best chemical tools, to secure future profitability, we probably need to heed the warnings and mix things up. Use everything in moderation, as the veteran farmers would say. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

Here is this week’s discussion question. What are your farm strategies for beating resistance issues in crop production? Feel free to share your comments and experiences with us here. 

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