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EPA approves new soybean herbicide, but not for use in Iowa

Article cover photo
A diverse toolbox of weed control options allows farmers to use an integrated approach when it comes to weed management. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Katie James, ISA public relations manager

Select soybean farmers have a new weed control option available this growing season.

Last month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the new Alite 27 (Isoxaflutole) herbicide for use on genetically-modified soybean varieties. This herbicide provides farmers with a new tool against many herbicide-resistant weeds while promoting a safe and abundant soybean harvest.

However, no Iowa counties received approval for use.

“We are excited to have EPA approval for pre-emergence use of Alite 27,” says Joe Merschman, president and CEO of Merschman Seeds in West Point, Iowa. “Unfortunately, no counties in Iowa are approved due to the Endangered Species Act.”

Counties not approved for use of the herbicide are home to at least one endangered species or border a county containing one. Approval was limited to specific counties in 25 states. Iowa and Illinois have no counties approved.

The same herbicide, however, is approved for use on corn in 33 states.

Merschman says group 27 corn products have shown little to no damage in carryover.

Although Iowa soybean growers can’t use this new herbicide yet, the news is welcomed as a more diverse toolbox of herbicide options hit the market.

“It is our hope that with demonstrated experience using Alite 27 that the EPA will expand the counties for use,” said Merschman. “There is still potential benefit for Iowa farmers with LibertyLink GT27 soybeans in corn soybean rotations following a group 27 corn herbicide applied the previous year.”

A diverse toolbox of weed control options allows farmers to use an integrated approach when it comes to weed management. Using multiple herbicides, varying herbicide tolerance traits and mechanical weed management options allow farmers options and customizations for different operational needs, says Ed Anderson, Iowa Soybean Association senior director of research.

“It’s most important farmers know their weed populations when deciding on a weed management strategy,” said Anderson. “EPA approvals can set a precedent for farmers’ ability to use integrated management techniques.”

Despite being unavailable for Iowa soybean growers to use, Anderson said it is encouraging that EPA is sensitive to weed management issues farmers face and they are willing to make approvals.

 “Fundamentally, farmers need as many viable tools in the toolbox they can have,” said Anderson.

He reminds Iowa soybean farmers of one resource consistently available to them – the Iowa Soybean Association.

“Should this herbicide become an option in the future, we would engage with farmers on this and other herbicides, as we always do,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of other opportunities for on-farm research that evaluates in-field and edge-of-field practices to help farmers be more profitable, productive and sustainable.”

The ISA research and agronomy teams remain at the ready to help farmers reach their own production goals.

“We know you’re busy and have a lot of work going on, but take the time to scout your fields, see the issues and apply those integrated solutions,” he urges farmers. “We can help extend the life of these pest management solutions while also helping farmers be good stewards.”

Read the full EPA announcement regarding the new herbicide here.

See ways to get involved with ISA’s research team and activate or renew your ISA membership status here.

Contact Katie James at kjames@iasoybeans.com.

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjames@iasoybeans.com. © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.