There’s a six-word phrase retailers and farmers hear at least once in nearly any crop-protection meeting they attend. It goes something like this: always read and follow label directions. That was a message BASF spokesmen repeated more than once during an online press conference yesterday for the company's new dicamba-based herbicide, Engenia.

In preparation for the 2017 growing season, BASF is looking to safeguard Engenia with proactive training and stewardship practices that can maintain the product’s integrity and proper use, says Andy Goetz, manager of regulatory strategy and stewardship research and development for the company.

Goetz says BASF is positioning Engenia as a tool farmers can use as part of a comprehensive weed-control system using multiple sites of action and residual herbicides to address weeds, especially herbicide-resistant ones.

During the briefing, BASF spokesmen provided a number of steps applicators can take to ensure good weed-control results while minimizing the potential for product drift, a key concern for dicamba-based herbicides.

Consider environmental factors: Awareness of weather conditions and proximity of sensitive crops is critical before and during application, notes Robert Wolf, an On-Target Application Academy (OTAA) trainer for BASF and a professor emeritus at Kansas State University. He encourages applicators to consult any sensitive crop registries for their area when planning an application.

Wolf says wind is the No. 1 concern the industry has for off-target movement and spraying.

The label instructions for Engenia are to not spray “if a wind of 10 to 15 mph is blowing toward neighboring sensitive non-specialty crops.” At and above 15 mph, the label says don’t spray at all.

Portable wind speed indicators are the best tool for determining wind speed, Wolf says. He encourages applicators to measure wind speed often, based on the size of the job, and to also be cognizant of wind direction. His recommendation is to use the wind speed indicator at the boom height so you’re measuring wind speed at the product release height from the nozzles. In addition, he says applicators can place small flags in the field to get a sense of the direction the wind is coming from.

“I also recommend using a compass so applicators can properly record the degrees on the compass to indicate the direction the wind is coming from, so they’re well protected in their recordkeeping process,” he advises.

In addition, Wolf advises applicators to be aware of temperature inversions, which can contribute to herbicide drift. He explains that a temperature inversion occurs when a warm layer of air hangs over a crop while cooler air settles near the ground.

“The warm air acts as a shield, preventing spray droplets from dispersing,” he says.

The product droplets stay in a concentrated mass above the crop. If any wind starts to blow, it can potentially move the product off target.

Wolf says temperature inversions typically occur in late afternoon, continue through the night and into the following morning. They can often be identified visually as they appear like ground fog or dust hanging over a field.

Use the approved nozzle. Applicators applying Engenia herbicide must use the TeeJet TTI 11004 spray induction nozzle to meet EPA-approved application requirements. The 11004 nozzle produces ultra-coarse droplets, which provides good distribution of product while minimizing the amount of driftable fines.

BASF is consulting with EPA about other potential nozzles for use, but for now the TTI 11004 is the only approved nozzle, says Chad Asmus, technical marketing manager for BASF.

Wolf says to be sure to adjust sprayers at the start of the application season and maintain routine inspections to check for nozzle wear and tear.

Also consider the boom height prior to any herbicide applications. If a boom is raised too high, the application is more exposed to wind and the potential for drift is increased. For spraying Engenia, applicators need to use a boom height of 24 inches above the target.

 Applicators can stay up to date on the latest nozzle and spray mixture at Engeniatankmix.com.

Get more training. Asmus says more than 13,000 growers and applicators have attended BASF’s on-target application academy training. To enhance the reach of the program’s accessibility to applicators, BASF will be taking its tools online in the form of digital training.

Applicators will be able to access the on-target online module in upcoming weeks by going to growsmartuniveristy.com, Asmus says.

In addition, BASF will be offering more in-person training opportunities prior to application season.  

To date, 11 states have approved the use of Engenia in soybeans and cotton for 2017. They are: Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. BASF expects more to come onboard prior to application season this coming spring.