Ecosystem management is the essence of land stewardship

Training cattle to eat noxious weed; a Madison County pest management project.

A Kansas State (K-State) University weed management specialist says increased prices and decreased availability of herbicides may force farmers into finding alternative ways of managing weeds in their fields.

“Producers have got some tough decisions to make this winter as they think about how they’re going to manage things coming into the spring,” said K-State’s Sarah Lancaster.

She added that “significant shortages” of glyphosate and glufosinate are anticipated in 2022. “Some of the distributors that I’ve talked with actually are talking about the situation not being cleared up by 2023,” Lancaster said.

Producers who have relocated their cattle out of state for winter feeding this year should consider having a weed management protocol in place when the cattle return, say North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension specialists.

Lancaster said those forces will require changing how business is done without herbicides. She said it may be a good test run ifyears down the roadherbicide resistance prevents the post-emergence herbicides from working.

In the meantime, Lancaster urges producers to consider implementing practices to make sure that the herbicides being used are effective. They include:

Checking equipment every day before spraying, including nozzles.

Adjusting the speed of the vehicle you are driving while spraying. “When you drop the driving speed, you’re allowing more of your herbicide to hit the intended target,” Lancaster said.

Adding water to increase the spray volume of the herbicide.

“As we think about ways to take the pressure off the post-emergence products, having a solid pre-emergence herbicide program is important,” Lancaster said. “That includes multiple effective modes of action, especially for things like pigweeds, but also for other weeds that have kind of slipped through the cracks the last few years.”

Late August and September rains have left drought-stressed pastures and rangelands in some areas of the Great Plains looking green and lush. This is leading ranchers to wonder if they should take advantage of this forage and how grazing will influence forage production in 2022.

In addition, Lancaster said optimizing planting dates, seeding rates, seeding depth and fertility may help give the crop a competitive edge over weeds. Nonchemical weed management practicessuch as weed electrocution, a method in which weeds are shocked with thousands of volts of electricitymay also be worth considering, she said. — K-State Research and Extension

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