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.

Related Articles


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 November 25, 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 November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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