Use your mixing talents for cocktails not complex tank mixing

Apr 29, 2024

By Denise Faguy

In the quest to maximize crop yields and protection, some farmers are turning to increasingly complex chemical mixes in their spray tanks. This practice, known as the "more-on principle," suggests that more chemicals reduce farming risks. However, this could not be further from the truth as it often leads to increased costs, diminished product efficacy, and escalated resistance issues.

Highlighting this concern, Dr. Paul Mitchell points out that the allure of these tank mixes often lies in their marketing as cheap insurance or essential additions for crop health. These mixes can complicate the spray's effectiveness and lead to significant economic and environmental drawbacks. For example, some farmers are encouraged to apply unnecessary fungicides or insecticides, which not only increases costs but also poses a risk to non-target insect populations and promotes resistance.

The economic hit from such practices is twofold. Farmers might be paying for products that do not deliver measurable benefits, overshadowed by genetic improvements in crops that would yield benefits regardless. The inability to isolate the effects of each component makes it difficult to assess the actual value added by these chemical cocktails.

From an environmental perspective, the misuse of pesticides can lead to decreased efficacy, further complicated by potential compatibility issues between mixed products. This not only contributes to resistance but can also cause direct harm to crop, such as observed in specialty crops like cranberries where certain mixes have prevented pollination and crop production.

Shawn P. Conley, Jed Colquhoun, and Damon Smith; University of Wisconsin Madison Professors and State Extension Specialists advise farmers, “We thought it would be a good idea to remind growers to keep your cocktails for happy hour and consider the perils of complex tank mixing!”

Farmers are advised to adopt a more scientific approach when considering tank mixes. This includes understanding each product's active ingredients, verifying their effectiveness through independent studies, and maintaining control strips to observe the actual benefits under real-world conditions.

By embracing research-based decision-making, farmers can ensure that their practices are both economically sensible and environmentally sustainable, avoiding the pitfalls of over-reliance on marketed chemical solutions.  They can save their mixology skills for cocktail hour.

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