Resistance Management. There has probably not been a meeting in agriculture this winter that has not had at least one speaker on this topic. But, as I have sat through these meetings this winter, the key to resistance management has been overlooked in many instances: Teamwork. That is one of those old worn out phrases, I know, but it is essential when you think about managing resistant weeds, insects and diseases. Everyone in the game must know the game plan and know their role to be successful.
For crop consultants, we must never forget the basics of resistance management include rotating chemistry, using multiple modes of action, only treating at economic threshold and using appropriate refuges for Bt crops. Farmers must understand and be willing to implement these strategies as well, which may not mean using the cheaper alternative, but using those that will ensure the longevity of the chemistries.
In the case of resistant weeds, farmers may need to go back to using cultivators and hooded-sprayers as means of controlling weeds. Retailers and manufacturers understand these principles as well and play a significant role in making sure products are available to growers when the time comes to make an application. At times, the availability of products, due to inventory or production limitations, can be a major obstacle to implementing effective resistance management.
There are even more players in the game than just the ones mentioned above. Equipment dealers and custom harvesters must ensure equipment is clean of plant debris and weed seed when moving from one region to the next. This helps to ensure that resistant weed seed is not moved from one region to another. It has been well documented that resistant weeds are being moved in this manner. Farmers and consultants play a role here as well by ensuring their equipment is kept clean and does not become a mechanism for moving resistant weeds.
As with any team, communication becomes the key to being successful. And it is important that each player in the game communicates with each and understands the resistance management plan that is in place. This plan becomes important in making sure products are available at local retailers and retailers understand which products will be used in the upcoming year.
Furthermore, it is important in the game of resistance management to be on the offensive. In other words, waiting for resistance to occur and then developing a resistance management plan is the wrong approach to take. Farmers, consultants, manufacturers and retailers must understand how important it is to rotate chemistries and not to “over use” products. Manufacturers can take the lead here by educating growers, consultants and retailers on the mode of action found in their respective products.
I am confident that if we all work together, resistance management can be succeed and we can ensure the longevity of new products to come.