EPA OKs new curbs on controversial weed killer

Crop consultants believe dicamba drift caused rounded, cupped leaves.
Crop consultants believe dicamba drift caused rounded, cupped leaves on these soybean plants in southern Minnesota, on July 19, 2017.
Mark Steil | MPR News File

The federal Environmental Protection Agency says companies making the weed killer dicamba have agreed to new restrictions for the next growing season. One of the biggest changes: only trained workers can apply the herbicide.

Thousands of U.S. farmers, including some 250 in Minnesota, allege that the herbicide dicamba damaged their crops when it drifted from a neighbor's fields onto their land last summer.

Farmers are looking for solutions to the drifting problem, said Bob Worth, who chairs a Minnesota Soybean Growers Association task force on the issue.

"We don't want neighbor against neighbor, farmer against farmer, farmer against coop," he said. "We want to make sure that we find out what's causing these issues and get them stopped so we continue to have this chemical, because we need this chemical."

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says it's also investigating the issue.

Many farmers switched to dicamba after they found that traditional herbicides no longer kill some weeds, because the plants have developed resistance to the chemicals.

The new EPA guidelines also restrict what time of day and under what wind conditions dicamba can be applied.

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