Limitations protect endangered species

In order to protect endangered species, farmers using the pesticide dicamba should check a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website before applying it to their crops.

Dicamba, also known as Xtendimax, FeXapan and Engenia, is a benzoic acid herbicide. It’s produced by Bayer, formerly Monsanto.

According to Bayer, dicamba is the active ingredient in a variety of products commonly used to control broadleaf weeds. Dandelions, clover and common ragweed are all examples.

“Dicamba has been on the market for a long, long time,” said Christopher Wade, state Department of Agricuture pesticides section administrator. “Recently, it was reformulated to be used over the top on soybeans, so it’s kind of had a resurgence in the market.”

Dicamba is extremely effective – so effective that it had the unintended effect of damaging other crops when it drifts. Bayer, in turn, created a dicamba formula for use with their own genetically modified, dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans.

However, not all farmers choose to use their modified plants. Dicamba can injure their crops and any other plants it drifts across.

“There have been issues in some states, like in the Midwest, with the product,” Wade said. “But it’s warmer there. We haven’t had any problems [in Delaware].”

Regardless, all users are required to follow the directions on the label and, according to Wade, that’s the number one thing they can do to prevent undesired effects.

“The label is the law in Delaware,” he said. “If there’s something on the label you don’t understand, we’re here to help.”

Dicamba labels direct users to the EPA’s Bulletins Live! Two to check for pesticide use limitation areas, which exist to protect endangered species. In Sussex County, there are limitation areas for the protection of seabeach amaranth, an endangered coastal plant species.

The Bulletins Live! Two system is updated monthly and pesticide applicators are urged to check it as often as possible.

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