Rebate programs rarely make national headlines, but when the product is at the center of statewide bans, lawsuits and off-target damage controversies, a cash-back offer raises some eyebrows.
Farmers may earn a $6-per-acre rebate when they apply XtendiMax herbicide to their Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in 2018, says Ryan Rubischko, product manager and marketing lead at Monsanto.
Does discounting a controversial product send the wrong message to consumers and farmers?
“I think just the opposite — it provides even more emphasis on choosing an approved product and ensuring other important products, like residuals, get put on that acre,” Rubischko says, and adds that farmers should always use a systems approach. Retailers will coordinate the Roundup Ready Plus rebate program, Rubischko says, as they have for the past 10 years.
The Roundup Ready Plus rebate program was created to encourage farmers to use multiple sites of action, not just Roundup. The rebate program remains focused on weed management, Rubischko says, and is not a way to track XtendiMax use. The new restricted-use pesticide designation and EPA-required record-keeping documentation will provide source information if issues such as off-target damage arise.
Rubischko says Monsanto hopes to avoid off-target damage issues by increasing education and providing new tools for farmers using the Xtend system.
Tools and training
“Success in 2018 is focused around education and training,” Rubischko says. Along with the XtendiMax rebate program, Monsanto announced new customer support plans, including:
• More training. In addition to the mandatory auxin training required by the updated XtendiMax label, Rubischko says Monsanto plans to train seed partners and chemical retailers during winter meetings.
• Free approved nozzles. Farmers planting Xtend soybeans and planning to spray XtendiMax will receive free approved nozzles from Monsanto. The XtendiMax label outlines approved nozzles that may reduce drift. “Some applicators didn’t use the right nozzles,” Rubischko says, and adds that using the wrong nozzles is an off-label application. Rubischko says farmers may have already received mailed notification about the free nozzles, or they can contact their local retailer. A list of label-approved nozzles is available online.
• New spray app. Monsanto will launch a new field forecasting tool prior to spraying season, Rubischko says. The tool will help identify when weather conditions are within label requirements, with an emphasis on identifying temperature inversions. More details on the app will be announced upon launch, he adds.
• Field flags. What kind of soybeans are planted in that field? Roundup Ready 2 Xtend? LibertyLink? Roundup Ready 2? Retailers will provide a unique flag for every trait package, Rubischko says, and flags placed at field entry points will help applicators avoid spraying errors.
• Tech support. “Our objective is to have tech support available seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset, during spray season,” Rubischko says. Applicators who have on-the-go buffer or equipment questions, or applicators who need label clarifications, may call 1-844-RRXTEND to speak with tech support, but don’t expect advice on whether or not you’re cleared to spray in current conditions. “We’ll answer label questions,” Rubischko says. “But whether or not to spray, that’s really the applicator’s decision.”