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‘Flag The Technology’ Helps Identify Herbicide Sensitive Fields

By Blair Fannin, Texas A&M AgriLife

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Plant Protection Association have collaborated on a Flag the Technology program that identifies crop fields tolerant to certain herbicides.

With two new herbicide-resistant technologies that will be widely used in cotton, corn and soybeans, program coordinators say it is critical farmers know which fields are safe for application of the new products and which are sensitive to them.

The program, which originated in Arkansas, helps farmers identify fields safe for application and those that must be avoided to prevent unintentional damage to the producer’s field or to adjacent crops. Farmers place colored flags at field entry points, with each color representing a different technology. The flags make herbicide applicators aware of which products are appropriate and safe to use on a specific field.

“Farmers throughout Texas will be learning more about this program throughout 2017,” says Dr. Travis Miller, AgriLife Extension interim associate director for state operations in College Station. “We will also distribute a publication to help explain the flags used in the system, and AgriLife Extension faculty will be discussing flag technology in producer meetings.”

‘Flag The Technology’ Helps Identify Herbicide Sensitive Fields

Mobile App Available
Texas Plant Protection Association chairman Ray Smith in College Station says the program and mobile app will “help enlighten our farmers on how to use the new technology. This app also emphasizes good recordkeeping.”

The mobile app will also be available to spray applicators so they can check flag colors upon entering a field. The flag indicates which products they can use.

The following are flag colors and uses:

  • White — Technology is tolerant to glyphosate herbicides.
  • Green — Tolerant to glufosinate (Liberty) herbicide.
  • Yellow — Clearfield rice, sunflowers, wheat and canola, which are tolerant to imidazolinone herbicides.
  • Teal — Tolerant to both 2,4-D and FOP (ACCase) herbicides or Enlist technology. The white stripes indicate tolerance to glyphosate. For Enlist cotton traits and soybean fields, a green flag should be added to denote tolerance to glufosinate (Liberty) herbicide.
  • Black and white checkered — Tolerant to both dicamba (Engenia and ExtendiMax) and glyphosate.
  • Red — Extreme caution required. Indicates conventional crops with no herbicide tolerant traits as well as sensitive production areas such as vegetables, vineyards, apiaries and organic production.

The new app builds on the field program developed by Bob Scott at the University of Arkansas, Smith says. Dr. Todd Sink, AgriLife Extension wildlife and fisheries specialist in College Station, developed the Flag the Technology app.

Works With ‘Hit The Target’
Users also have the option of meshing the app with Hit the Target. Formerly known as Texas Crop Registry, this voluntary program allows producers with sensitive crop areas to register specific fields, including non-GMO acres, orchards and others, says Dr. Bob Coulson, Texas A&M AgriLife Research entomologist.

“That information will be available to pesticide applicators,” he says. “Individuals must register to use the system. Producers who register will specify field location and add the crop or sensitive nature of the area.”

Coulson says producers would need to calculate field dimensions. With that information logged in, the producer can go to the Flag the Technology program and select the color flag needed for the fields.

“The applicator will have a dashboard with the field profiles included to prevent off-target applications,” he says. Coulson adds that Hit the Target will soon transition to a new program, which can be accessed via a mobile device.

Sink says the Flag the Technology app is user friendly. “It loads within five seconds,” he says. “The pesticide applicator is aware of where sensitive crops are located and can adjust flight plans to avoid those areas.”

The mobile app will be available free from iTunes and Google Play. A publication about the program is available for download at http://bit.ly/2j9Sce0.

Texas AgriLife Research & Extension Center contributed this article. Blair Fannin is News Editor with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service/Texas A&M AgriLife Research in College Station. Contact Fannin at 979-845-2259 or b-fannin@tamu.edu.