Carl Willis has a serious weed problem on his land, which is why he was one of the first farmers in Canada to try LibertyLink soybeans.
The giant ragweed on 130 acres of Willis’s farm near Windsor, Ont., has become resistant to glyphosate and poses a real problem. As well, because this particular field is adjacent to an airport, he is not allowed to grow wheat or corn, and so he has mono-cropped Roundup Ready soybeans for many years, contributing to the development of weed resistance.
Willis was pleased with the weed control that Liberty gave him this year, although he admits he made one mistake that he won’t repeat next year.
“This year we did a burn down with Roundup and we should have gone Liberty right off the start,” he says. “The one pass we did with Liberty killed all the new weeds we sprayed it on, but some of the old ones shut down and then sprouted back. If we had just gone completely with the Liberty program we probably would have killed them all.”
Neighbours who did both the spring burn off and in-crop treatments with Liberty completely eliminated similar problems in their fields, says Willis.
LibertyLink incorporates a trait that is tolerant to glufosinate ammonium, the active ingredient in Liberty, a Group 10 herbicide. Glyphosate is a Group 9 product, which means that farmers are now being given more options for weed control in soybeans and other crops.
“Liberty is the only Group 10 product available for growers, so it offers a fantastic tool to help manage weed-resistance issues,” says Greg Good, portfolio manager of row crops for Bayer Crop Science. “As a herbicide rotational tool, Liberty gives a wonderful opportunity to mix up your crop and herbicides, whether it is with our In-Vigor canola, LibertyLink corn and now, LibertyLink soybeans.”
Bayer CropScience has partnered with seed companies Pride Seeds, Croplan and Prograin to produce and sell LibertyLink soybeans.
2010 YIELD RESULTS
A limited number of varieties of LL soybeans were registered for use in Canada this May and were introduced initially in Ontario and Quebec. A later-maturing Pride Seeds variety PS 2295 LL (3150 CHU), was grown by farmers (including Willis) in south western Ontario. In total, about 1,000 acres of LibertyLink soybeans were grown and yielded well in all areas, averaging from 55 to 65 bushels per acre for the earlier varieties and around 35 to 45 for the later varieties.
“The yield and quality potential of these soybeans is every bit as good as the products that are on the market today,” says Good.
Willis was impressed.
“They are a good bean and they yielded just as well as the Roundup Ready, if not better,” says Willis, who ended up with around 45 bushels per acre.
There are a few differences that farmers have to consider when using the LibertyLink technology. Liberty has a different mode of action, which means it has to be applied under slightly different conditions to glyphosate
“You had to do things a little bit differently but it really wasn’t a problem,” says Willis. “Liberty likes to go on when it’s very hot, and you have to put a lot of water on because it is a contact herbicide and it kills what it hits, whereas glyphosate is absorbed by the plant.”
Willis says the Liberty herbicide was a little more expensive than glyphosate but the seed cost, in his case, was lower than the RR2 soybeans he had been using, so the two offset each other. Willis will continue to grow them largely to avoid weed resistance, but he also likes the quality of the bean. Price is also a factor.
“They have to remain cheaper than the Roundup beans, if (farmers) are going to grow LibertyLink soybeans widespread, instead of growing Roundup Ready beans, just to change stuff up, rather than if they have a weed problem,” he says.
It’s ultimately the first-hand experience of growers using LibertyLink technology in the field that gives the best indication of the potential for these new varieties.
“Through 2010 we gained a lot of experience,” says Jonathan Klapwyk, product manager for Pride Seeds. “Every farm is a little different in terms of what weeds they need to control and when they need to control them, and many of those challenges really got worked out in the field this year.”
More LibertyLink Soybean seed will be available for next year and farmer interest is high, says Klapwyk.
“We are looking to position ourselves as a unique alternative in the non-selective herbicide soybean market,” says Good. “LibertyLink offers a product that is a different herbicide group from glyphosate that offers alternate, weed management options.”
LibertyLink soybeans are the result of a collaboration between three companies. Bayer Crop Science and MS Technologies LLC, who combined proprietary technologies and inserted them into elite germplasm provided by the third company, Mertec LLC.
Pride Seeds, Croplan and Prograin will be working on mid to short season LibertyLink soybean varieties that they hope to be able to introduce to Western Canada soon.