What has it meant to farmers? Scott says the label approving aerial application of Command has made their lives a little easier and saved them a substantial amount of money
"The biggest benefit of the aerial label to farmers has been to extend the application window of Command. It's an economical choice for an up-front, soil-applied herbicide. But if we get into wet conditions where normally we couldn't get in with a ground rig, we can apply Command by airplane."
In Arkansas County, which has more than 100,000 acres of rice, air-applied Command has given rice farmers safe, inexpensive and effective weed control, according to Phil Sims, county extension agent. He says that since the approval, farmers have saved money and enjoyed cleaner fields.
But the savings and convenience haven't come without a few hitches.
"Farmers know they can apply Command by air, so they wait too long to see if they can get in with a ground rig,” he says. “Grass and weeds can emerge in the meantime. In that case, it's too late to apply Command."
Scott says studies by various chemical companies have looked at tank mix partners that can go out with Command by air to combat emerged weeds. These include Roundup, Facet, Clincher and propanil.
"They found that some tank mixtures can cause Command to drift a little worse than others by creating fine droplets. The state Plant Board states specifically which trade name products you can mix with Command. But not all of those have been released yet. Before next spring, there will be a label listing the specific tank mix partners."
The herbicide mixtures have worked well in studies, according to Scott.
"With the new uses of these herbicides, we've had good luck with post-emerge applications of Command or late-applied soil applications of Command. We've had tank mixes with Roundup prior to rice emerging that have looked really good."
Scott notes that farmers need good, wet growing conditions for many of the postemerge herbicides to be effective. They also need a flush or activating rainfall for Command to work.
Scott credits Dennis Gardisser, an Extension engineer, with much of the research that helped get Command approved for aerial application. He performed drift studies with private researchers and the herbicide maker, FMC Corp.
"It's a true success story in the industry that they went back to the drawing board and came up with a different formulation of Command that didn't drift. We just haven't had any drift related problems to speak of since then."
Scott says the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board funded the work that has helped growers save money.
"Command, on average, costs a third of what it was before. It was a continuation of the work that was done to get Command labeled in the first place. The board has been a part of this on many levels."
Lamar James is a writer for the Arkansas Coperative Extension Service