Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drifting herbicides produce uncertain effects

Date:
February 10, 2014
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Farmers should take extra precautions so drifting herbicides do not create unintended consequences on neighboring fields and farms, according to agricultural researchers.

Because dicamba and 2,4-D typically target broadleaf plants, such as wildflowers, and not grasses, the researchers found that the number of wildflowers diminished, while grasses soon dominated the field edges, which were once blends of broad leaf plants and grasses.
Credit: J. Franklin Egan

Farmers should take extra precautions so drifting herbicides do not create unintended consequences on neighboring fields and farms, according to agricultural researchers.

The researchers found a range of effects -- positive, neutral and negative -- when they sprayed the herbicide dicamba on old fields -- ones that are no longer used for cultivation -- and on field edges, according to J. Franklin Egan, research ecologist, USDA-Agricultural Research Service. He said the effects should be similar for a related compound, 2,4-D.

"The general consensus is that the effects of the increased use of these herbicides are going to be variable," said Egan. "But, given that there is really so much uncertainty, we think that taking precautions to prevent herbicide drift is the right way to go."

Farmers are expected to use dicamba and 2,4-D on their fields more often in the near future because biotechnology companies are introducing crops genetically modified to resist those chemicals. From past experience, 2,4-D and dicamba are the herbicides most frequently involved in herbicide-drift accidents, according to the researchers.

Because the herbicides typically target broadleaf plants, such as wildflowers, they are not as harmful to grasses, Egan said. In the study, the researchers found grasses eventually dominated the field edge test site that was once a mix of broadleaf plants and grass. The old field site showed little response to the herbicide treatments.

Herbicide drift was also associated with the declines of three species of herbivores, including pea aphids, spotted alfalfa aphids and potato leaf hoppers, and an increase in a pest called clover root curculio, Egan said. The researchers found more crickets, which are considered beneficial because they eat weed seeds, in the field edge site.

The researchers, who report their findings in the current issue of Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, did not see a drop in the number of pollinators, such as bees, in the fields. However, the relatively small size of the research fields limited the researchers' ability to measure the effect on pollinators, according to Egan.

"That may be because pollinators are very mobile and the spatial scale of our experiment may not be big enough to show any effects," Egan said.

Farmers can cut down on herbicide drift by taking a few precautions, according to Egan. They can spray low-volatility herbicide blends, which are less likely to turn to vapors, and use a nozzle design on the sprayer that produces larger droplets that do not easily drift in the wind.

Egan also recommended that farmers follow application restrictions printed on herbicide labels and try to spray on less windy days when possible.

The tests were conducted on two farms in Pennsylvania. One field edge site was located near a forest and alfalfa field. The old field was an acre plot near Penn State's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research farm.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. The original article was written by Matthew Swayne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Franklin Egan, Eric Bohnenblust, Sarah Goslee, David Mortensen, John Tooker. Herbicide drift can affect plant and arthropod communities. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 2014; 185: 77 DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2013.12.017

Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Drifting herbicides produce uncertain effects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210140027.htm>.
Penn State. (2014, February 10). Drifting herbicides produce uncertain effects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210140027.htm
Penn State. "Drifting herbicides produce uncertain effects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140210140027.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins