I have seen around the company, especially in the northern areas, that there is some growing interest in Liberty Link soybeans. Liberty Link soybeans, with tolerance to glufosinate (Liberty Herbicide from Bayer), can be a solid program and a good alternative to Roundup Ready soybeans. Current soybean offerings that feature the Liberty Link trait in our sales territory are Liberty Link only. Future offerings from Bayer and others will stack the Liberty Link trait with glyphosate tolerance. Liberty Link and Roundup Ready systems do require some different management practices. LIBERTY DONE RIGHT has several steps to be aware of, and Bayer summarizes them as STOP: S Start Clean and Stay Clean, T Target less than 3” weeds; O Optimize coverage, and P Pair with residuals. A step by step process, from Bayer recommendations plus my own experience, includes the following:
- Start Clean. Burndown herbicides ahead of a Liberty Link systems are well worthwhile. Liberty works best when temperatures are warmer, which do NOT happen that often immediately after planting in South and North Dakota. Burn down kochia, marestail, and winter annual mustards BEFORE planting, or they will be too big by proper application timing.
- Use a Pre-emergence herbicide- a GOOD one and a STRONG ONE. This is perhaps the most critical step! The worst thing that happened to Liberty Link in the Northern Plains was the recommendation for a Liberty application 21 days after planting (and I made that recommendation in my Bayer days). We need FIVE WEEKS after planting- if we can- before Liberty, but we need to spray Liberty by R1 (70 d PHI). The warmer the weather at the first Liberty application, the better. This would be the case to make an investment UP FRONT in a stronger pre- like adding something extra along with an Authority brand of pre, or with Valor + Metribuzin, or with other programs like Prevail or Fierce, etc. An extra kick of a third Mode Of Action residual along with these standard pres can get that extra length of time needed to get temps warm and make Liberty REALLY WORK.
- Spray small weeds! Liberty will not be very effective on 6” plus weeds, in general! This is especially true of a few select weeds. Three inches is a better target. For example, my experience tells me that yellow foxtail must be small (3” but certainly <4”) to get Liberty to kill it. For Liberty, yellow foxtail is tougher than green foxtail. Other weeds also require a small size weed.
- Keep the Liberty Rate UP! 29 up to 36 ounces of Liberty are labeled per application in soybeans. Don’t cheat on rates. Maximum seasonal rates are 65 ounces in soybean and 44 ounces in corn.
- AMS is absolutely critical! Three pounds per acre of AMS or 17 lb/100 gallons is the best recommendation for Liberty. I have found this is even more critical for Liberty than it is with Roundup. Just like with Roundup, the water conditioning nature of AMS helps performance.
- Use enough WATER- Coverage is critical. Liberty acts more as a contact spray than Roundup- by far! 15 GPA carrier and more moderate spray droplet size- around 300 microns, will maximize coverage and improve control. Huge droplets or concentrated droplets at a low carrier rate will NOT make Liberty look good enough.
- Pick your TIMING and WEATHER! Liberty performs best on a warm, slightly muggy day. If there is a lot of cloud cover and cold temps on the planned day of application, performance will suffer. Also, apply Liberty from 1-2 hours after sunrise (dew somewhat drying) and before sunset. Control of weeds like lambsquarters will suffer with an application after sunset.
- Add a post residual! Liberty does not have any residual activity, just like Roundup. If waterhemp is a concern, for example, adding a post-emergence residual, like a Warrant, Outlook or Dual, or a fomesafen product may be beneficial.
- Adjuvants and Defoamer. No additional adjuvant is usually needed with Liberty. Liberty tends to be pretty “soapy” so additional adjuvant is usually not needed. A defoamer is a good tool to have on hand, as Liberty tends to foam with any amount of agitation. Liberty will make other products “hotter”, so watch total adjuvant load with partner products.
Liberty Link Soybean in a Planned System
Liberty Link soybeans can be an effective herbicide system, and are worth taking a look at- or another look at if you have used them before. With the right tools in place, like we have now- Burndown, strong pre herbicides, higher use rate of Liberty in season and proper application, the Liberty Link soybean system can perform admirably and can provide a solid rotational option for resistance management.