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What's up with Liberty?

One knock growers have always had regarding Liberty herbicide is its expense.

There's a simple reason why: Glufosinate (Liberty's active ingredient) is expensive to manufacture. To lower the price, Bayer CropScience cooperated this year with more than 40 seed companies that supply LibertyLink hybrids to offer cash back up to $6.25 per acre.

"With these offers, Liberty is available to the grower, depending on local pricing, at less than $10 per acre," says Andy Hurst, Liberty product manager for Bayer CropScience. Hurst gave a Liberty update at the Commodity Classic that was held in early March in Tampa, Florida.

Like Roundup/glyphosate, Liberty is a non-selective herbicide. Hurst sees Liberty and LibertyLink hybrids as an alternative instead of a competitor to the Roundup Ready and glyphosate-tolerant systems. It mixes in another mode of action that can be used to forestall glyphosate resistance in weeds. One example of how it can work is by using Liberty on LibertyLink corn followed by Roundup Ready soybeans the next year.

Soybean growers will also have a Liberty option in 2009, when Bayer is slated to launch Liberty Link soybeans.

Learning curve
Growers new to Liberty should pay attention to application differences between it and glyphosate. "There is a huge learning curve in educating growers about differences between glyphosate and Liberty (glufosinate)," says Hurst.

The main difference? Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide, while glufosinate is a contact chemical.

"With Liberty being a contact herbicide, thorough coverage is really important," says Hurst. "You'll be looking at medium spray patterns, vs. coarse ones with glyphosate. Being a contact herbicide, it's important to be timely on small weeds. You can't spray two-foot high weeds and expect to kill them with Liberty."

Residual preemergence herbicides that can curb weed growth before postemergence Liberty applications are also a must. "We will strongly stress the importance of including residual herbicides in a LibertyLink or Roundup Ready weed control program," Hurst adds. "A lot of universities have documented how detrimental early season weed competition really is."

One knock growers have always had regarding Liberty herbicide is its expense.

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