So, how does the cost of growing conventional soybeans stack up with genetically-modified seed?
“It’s safe to say that, compared to a GMO variety, you’ll spend almost the same amount on herbicide applications with conventional varieties,” says Bryan Stobaugh, a University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture researcher. “Resistant weeds have brought the costs in line. It’s true that you’ll add a few more things to the herbicide mix for conventional but you won’t be spending money on tech fees and the like associated with GMO products.”
Stobaugh, whogrew up on a central-Arkansas row-crop farm outside of Morrilton, came to his current work after becoming interested in genetics as an undergraduate student at Arkansas Tech. Working under Pengyin Chen, who oversees the statewide soybean breeding program, Stobaugh will soon earn a master’s degree and then begin work on a doctorate.
“I work with oil and protein so I’m very interested in seed composition. I like to say that with conventional varieties, the farmer has an option to break away from the norm — and break away from the resistant weed issue in the state. A large amount of grass and other weeds are simply taking over Arkansas fields.”
Through university and Extension research “we’ve seen that there are significant numbers of weeds gaining resistance and the populations are growing. There are over six prominent weed species that are now resistant.”
For more on weed resistance, see http://deltafarmpress.com/searchresults/?ord=d&terms=resistant+weeds.