During the Soybean Summit session on February 24, I had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Bernards  with the Western Illinois University School of Agriculture and his presentation of “What to do while we wait for the Elusive ‘Silver Bullet.’” If you were unable to attend this event, I would like to provide some insight on the topic. I hope after reading this blog you will be energized to follow the link to watch the full presentation: What to Do While We Wait for the Elusive “Silver Bullet” – YouTube

Over time, there have been several major concepts or discoveries that have developed a strong solution that by modern standards would be considered a “Game Changer.” However, with anything that is introduced into the environment, mother nature will find a biological way to create challenges.

Fertilizers were discovered and incorporated into production agriculture to improve yields as a food source for profitable crops. While at the same time allowing for environmental impact and challenges.

Herbicides were discovered and provided an immediate solution to control weeds, however, soon bring the rise of resistance and other challenges.

Big Historic Leaps

Primary hand weeding: this method was the original method to control weeds. It’s hard to believe that this is still a primary method in some parts of the world. Each introduction of a new-era leap of technology must have seemed like a silver bullet to many for the effectiveness, safety and cost reduction.  However, with every introductory leap, this new concept also gave rise to a series of new challenges that farmers must consider and manage.

Leap 1: The development of a hand hoe

Leap 2: Utilization of fire

Leap 3: Long-Handled Metal Hoes

Leap 4: Animal powered Plows

Leap 5: Interrow Cultivators

Leap 6: TRACTORS pulling plows

Leap 7: Cultivators mounted on tractors

Leap 8: Introduction of 2,4-D in 1946

Leap 9: Introduction of 100 Active Ingredients and 6,000 different formulation including Atrazine during the 1960’s

Leap 10: Introduction of Pursuit in 1989

Leap 11: Introduction of Round Up and Round Up Ready Crops

Leap 12: Introduction of Growth Regulator traits for soybeans

To think that a true ‘silver bullet’ ever existed or will ever exist is very hard to believe, however soybean production has seen many great leaps of innovation that have definitely improved production while also creating a series of new challenges. Modern soybean production has several, great options to manage weeds at a higher level than at any point in our history. With these great options, come great responsibilities to properly utilize so they can provide long term support. Too often in modern agricultural production, everyone expects that ‘The Big Companies’ will just invent the next trait or herbicide AI, but this mentality is not sustainable. New concepts – mechanical or chemical – take time and large financial investments to research and develop. Now’s the time to take control, Learn-Try-Manage.

Share This Story

About the Author: Todd Steinacher

Steinacher is an ISA CCA Soy Envoy alum and currently supports ISA on agronomic content as well as serving as an Illinois CCA board member. He was recently awarded the 2020 IL CCA of the Year & the 2021 International CCA of the Year. He has over 15 years agronomic experience, currently working with AgriGold and GROWMARK previously. Steinacher has an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College, a B.S. in agronomy and business from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree in crop science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.