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Cotton Consultant's Corner:
Biotechnology’s Impact

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D&PL
 

Click here to ask Dale Wells a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

  

   

 

  
Recap Of Biotechnology ’s Impact:
     

   

1. Cotton technology is allowing farmers to cover more acres with fewer employees in less time.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Although the technology is expensive, the benefits from it have been significant over the past several years.

5. In looking at news reports from areas outside of the ag community, I think the opposition to genetically modified crops is subsiding.
 

  

Dale Wells
Cotton Services Inc.
Leachville, Ark.
 

• B.S. in Agronomy – University of Arkansas, Monticello
• M.S. in Entomology – University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
• Agriculture Agent – U of A Cooperative Extension Service
  for five years (Ashley & Mississippi Counties)
• Started Cotton Services Inc. in 1993
• Consult on cotton, soybeans & corn with associate
  Les Goodson in Mississippi & Craighead counties
• Certified Crop Adviser since 1994
• Member & former vice president of Arkansas
  Agricultural Consultants Association
• Married to wife Cheryl for 27 years
• Three children:
  Nikki Wells Webb, 25. (Married to local cotton farmer Bryan
  Webb) Heather Wells, 23. (final year of Pharmacy School at
  UAMS) Zac Wells, 12. (student at Manila Middle School)
• Enjoy watching all Razorback sports & Chicago Cubs baseball


As farming operations have grown in size, cotton technology [Bollgard, Roundup Ready, Bollgard II and Roundup Ready Flex] is allowing farmers to cover more acres with fewer employees in less time. Along with this, we have seen a shift in equipment from tillage rigs to spray rigs that can cover more acres in less time. There are certainly more no-till and minimum-till fields.

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.

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