Faced with a weed-killer crisis caused by new formulations of dicamba-based herbicides, which farmers and weed experts say harmed crops this summer because they evaporate and drift away from where they are applied, some US companies are taking a new approach.
Monsanto for one is going to offer straight-up cash to farmers willing to use its controversial chemical called ‘XtendiMax with VaporGrip’.
XtendiMax got bad press earlier this year when the state of Missouri decided to ban spraying BASF's Engenia herbicide (also based on the dicamba chemical) as from the summer of 2018 as it had received a high number of complaints from farmers over crop damage.
Furthermore, Missouri declared it expected to impose similar bans on dicamba herbicides sold by Monsanto Co and DowDuPont Inc.
And so Monsanto is now fighting back to try and get the product accepted nationwide, certainly after all the investment in R&D it has done.
According to an offer made to farmers, Monsanto is ready to refund them over half the sticker price of the product in 2018 if they spray it on soybeans especially engineered to resist the weed killer.
Mr Ryan Rubischko, Monsanto product manager, commented: “We believe cash-back incentives for using XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology better enable growers to use a management system that represents the next level of weed control.”
Other states are also considering prohibiting the usage of dicamba herbicides.
North Dakota said it planned to prohibit the use after June 30, 2018, or if temperatures top 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arkansas is close to prohibiting dicamba sprayings after April 15, 2018, which would be the tightest date limits just yet, whilst the state of Minnesota is now also considering restrictions.
Mr Dan Henebry, an Illinois farmer claims that the Monsanto cash-back offer was simply designed to increase sales: “I think they’re just trying to buy more acres.”