For the week of March 13, 2017 

Spring fever

By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau

Safe usage of herbicides and pesticides is a practice today’s farmers take seriously. To apply these chemicals, ag producers must attend classes and pass tests to become certified as applicators.

Mother Nature has been whetting farmers’ appetites with warm temperatures, and listening to them talk, they’re raring to move into the fields to prepare for next fall’s crops. It won’t be long until huge grasshopper-like sprayers roll across Kansas fields.

Filled with herbicides, mixed with water, they’ll slowly empty the chemicals so corn, milo and soybeans can later grow without competition from weeds. Before long insecticides will be applied to fields from southeastern Kansas to the farms northwest. Applications of these pesticides should help control crop-nibbling critters in an attempt to raise yields next harvest.

Farmers work closely with crop consultants and local extension service specialists when applying herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers. They’ve cut their uses significantly in recent years. With the prices of agricultural inputs, they cannot afford to put on more than needed.

Rarely does a year go by when a change in usage of chemicals doesn’t impact crop producers. Farmers conscientiously adhere to federally approved label directions if they want to continue using chemicals.

Farmers work hard to safely apply pesticides within guidelines set by the federal government and manufacturers. Unfortunately, they are sometimes blamed or singled out as the cause of pollution, especially in our state’s waterways.

Without question, pesticides must continually be tested. It is important to update all pesticide registrations, to ensure their effectiveness and safety. Any new regulations should take into consideration the needs of people who handle and apply them, as well as the safety of those products.

Farmers understand chemical use and treat them with care. After all, they are the first ones to come in contact with them.

From planting through harvest, farmers do their best to provide nutritious, safe food. They battle weather, weeds, insects and disease. Their own efficiency is their best defense against unstable world markets, political barriers and fringe groups who attack their farming methods – yet know little about their profession.

Farmers remain devoted to safeguarding their farms, families and the environment while providing consumers with the safest food in the world.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.