The Tennessee Department of Agriculture, facing some 70 suspected dicamba-drift complaints largely in western Tennessee, has issued new rules on spraying both old and new formulations of the herbicide.
Use of older formulations is banned outright.
Looking to fight temperature inversion and resulting off-target damage, newer dicamba formulations – Engenia and XtendiMax among them – can only be sprayed between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Further “anyone applying dicamba products must be certified as a private applicator or licensed as a pest control operator in the category of Agricultural Pest Control (AGE), and is required to keep records for such applications.”
The final new rule also bans “applying dicamba over the top of cotton after first bloom.”
“Our approach will offer protection to those who stand to be negatively impacted by off-target movement of dicamba while also allowing those farmers who have invested in products designed for their crops to continue to use the appropriate herbicides responsibly,” Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton said in a press release.
Templeton’s statement continues: “Agriculture today is dependent more than ever on new and evolving technologies to help us feed and clothe the world. I’m confident that we can address this issue as we have in other cases to ensure the safe and effective use of these tools. We will be forming an advisory group representative of stakeholders to help us determine the best path forward going into the next year.”
Tennessee’s dicamba-related actions come shortly after both Arkansas and Missouri announced bans on use of the products. The 120-day Arkansas ban effectively takes the herbicide out of any application program for the growing season. Reports say the Missouri ban could be lifted in mid-July.
In late June, Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee weed specialist, had already been walking many drift-damaged fields. The pace hasn’t slowed.
“Really, what’s happening here is the mirror image of what’s happening across the river,” said Steckel. “We’re in this together…
“I knew we’d see drift and there’d be problems. But I had no idea it would be to this scale. The scale caught us all off-guard, I think.”
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture says “suspected misapplication should be reported immediately at (800)628-2631 or (615)837-5148. The department will take appropriate enforcement action for any misapplication, including but not limited to suspension or revocation of a certificate and state penalties up to $1,500 per violation, in addition to federal penalties and possible criminal prosecution.
“To assist producers and others who have questions, TDA has developed a dicamba resources webpage with links to educational information, a complete listing of approved dicamba products and the new rules at http://www.tn.gov/agriculture/article/ag-businesses-dicamba-resources