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With dicamba complaints down, Minnesota sticks to same application rules for 2023

In 2022, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture received far fewer complaints about dicamba herbicide drift than it did in 2021.

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Dorian Gatchell, owner of Minnesota Agricultural Services, sees off-target dicamba herbicide drift on a soybean field near Granite Falls, Minnesota, on Aug. 25, 2021.
Mikkel Pates / Agweek
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ST. PAUL — After a major decrease in dicamba complaints in 2022, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has announced that restrictions for three dicamba herbicide products will remain the same for the 2023 growing season in Minnesota.

The restrictions are aimed at curbing off-site movement of the products, according to a Minnesota Department of Agriculture news release.

The affected dicamba formulations are Engenia by BASF, Tavium by Syngenta, and XtendiMax by Bayer. These are the only dicamba products labeled for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans.

The three products are registered for use in Minnesota in 2023 with the following restrictions:

  • Date cutoff: No applications south of Interstate 94 after June 12, 2023; north of I-94, use is prohibited after June 30, 2023.
  • Temperature cutoff: No applications if the air temperature is over 85 degrees Fahrenheit or if the National Weather Service’s forecasted high temperature for the nearest available location for the day exceeds 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Users can download these restrictions from the product manufacturer’s website, and they must be in the user’s possession during application.

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During the 2022 growing season, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture received 25 formal complaints and eight responses to an informal survey, all alleging off-target movement. This was a major decrease from 2021 which saw a total of 304 formal complaints and survey responses.

“These restrictions mirror what we did in 2022 when we saw a major decrease in complaints of off-target movement from the previous year,” Agriculture Commissioner Thom Petersen said in a news release. “These products must be used without impacts on neighboring homes, farms, and gardens. The Minnesota-specific restrictions are based on scientific evidence from our drift investigations and discussions with the University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Soybean Growers Drift Taskforce.”

Other federal requirements for the products that appear on the product labels include:

  • Requiring an approved pH-buffering agent, also known as a volatility reducing agent, be tank mixed with dicamba products prior to all applications
  • Requiring a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet in areas where listed endangered species are located
  • Additional record keeping items

In addition to the cutoff date, Xtendimax and Tavium have crop growth stage cutoffs.
Since dicamba was first registered for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans in the 2017 growing season, Minnesota has fielded complaints each year of alleged off-site movement onto neighboring property. The chemical is highly volatile and can damage non-target plant species through spray drift and/or volatilization. Volatility is influenced by several factors including temperature, relative humidity, rate of application, and crop stage. The annual totals of complaints were:

2022: 32 reports
2021: 304
2020: 128
2019: 20
2018: 51
2017: 249

In Minnesota, Engenia, Tavium, and XtendiMax formulations of dicamba are approved for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans only and are “Restricted Use Pesticides.” The dicamba products are only for retail sale to and use by certified applicators.

Pesticide product registrations are renewed on an annual basis in Minnesota.

Common mistakes

Last year, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture identified the most common several missteps that lead to label violations when applying dicamba:

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  • Failing to provide proof of and/or attend dicamba-specific training
  • Failing to measure the wind speed at boom height
  • Applying dicamba when sensitive plants, crops, or residential areas were downwind
  • Failing to document that a sensitive crop registry/specialty crop registry was consulted
  • Failing to record a survey of adjacent areas
  • Incomplete application records
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