Cotton Consultant's Corner:
B.S. in Agronomy – University of Arkansas, Monticello
Some amazing traits will be coming out in the next few years, but I don’t see a “silver bullet” trait that will solve all of the problems. As the new traits are released, I think we will continue to see shifts in the pest patterns. We will need to recommend the best traits for each field and then be able to alter our control programs for any pest shifts associated with the new traits. We have gone from being totally reliant on multiple broad-spectrum sprays for insect control to a system that is more pest specific and more environmentally friendly thanks to advances in biotechnology. We still check for worms and occasionally apply treatments, but the plant bug/stink bug complex has risen in priority. [Also, starting this year, BG2 farmers in eligible regions can go with a natural refuge option instead of a structured refuge.]
New technology has and is continuing to bring amazing traits to the farms, but the cost associated with the research for these traits is also challenging farm budgets. As the cost for the technology increases, farmers will have to see “real world” benefits to the traits that are developed. Resistance management programs for the current technology, as well as the new traits that are being developed, will be critical in preserving the systems. Although the technology is expensive, the benefits from it have been significant over the past several years. The challenge for the current technology will be to remain at cost-efficient levels while resistance management options (soil-applied residuals) are used until the next level of traits is released.
Our area is inside the ag community. But, in looking at news reports from other areas, I think the opposition by some groups to genetically modified crops is subsiding. As parts of the world face growing hunger concerns, the idea of more yield from crops requiring less pesticide, fertilizer and water seems to be overcoming the scare of “frankenfoods” that some groups have promoted in the past.