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Incentives better than ol' fire and brimstone

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Programs must cross company lines to encourage farmers to rotate modes of action and implement cultural practices to better control weeds.

Those of us who have attended church regularly over the years have often heard the same sermon topics repeated time and again. And that’s actually a good thing: the truth from scripture never gets old.

In the same vein, farmers who have attended Extension meetings faithfully over the years have heard the same messages on the importance of herbicide resistance management. That too is a good thing because the problem of herbicide resistance won’t go away without a proactive approach.

Decades ago, many preachers used fire and brimstone in their sermons to convince folks to change their ways. And, Charlie Cahoon, North Carolina State University Extension weed specialist, notes that Extension specialists also used fire and brimstone when discussing resistance management. “We think one of the tactics that drives folks to change practices on their farm is to scare them to death,” Cahoon said in a presentation at the recent virtual North Carolina Crop Protection School.

“My daddy has trained bird dogs his whole life. He used to think the way to train a dog was to use discipline. My three-year old daughter just taught him it is quite easy to train a dog with a handful of treats. There are studies to back this up, rewarding good behavior. I think that’s what we are having to learn right now with pesticide resistance: How do we get our growers to put into practice the tactics we’ve been preaching for years,” Cahoon said.

A better way is providing farmers an economic incentive to implement integrated pest management practices which is the key to managing resistance. Companies do have incentive programs, but Cahoon believes the programs must cross company lines to encourage farmers to rotate modes of action and implement cultural practices to better control weeds.

The best solution is economic. Farmers will integrate best management practices if it adds to the bottom line. They will turn to weed control programs that yield the greatest profit come harvest

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