“The beautiful and difficult thing about Biology is things happen”

A light overview of one of today’s deadliest agricultural mishaps.

by Hannah Van Zant, EEOB

Amongst the obvious stressors of farmers regarding drought, yields, and how to go about a successful financial year with their crops overlays a thick fog of twists and turns which has seemed to both physically and mentally setback those who commercially grow soybeans.

Amongst the controversial and highly discussed headlines of the past year and reaching back into 2016 has seemingly hidden from the common layman the news of the hyped herbicide, Dicamba.  Provided by Monsanto and abundantly approved by the EPA, Dicamba is advertised as a ‘selectively killing herbicide’ by those who spray it, and as an “airborne menace” by those who are affected by it. Quite an opposing range of blunt descriptions for just one commonly used herbicide.

The unintentional, yet still readily occurring, exposure of Dicamba to nonresistant soybeans has resulted in the abnormal leaf development of ‘cupping’ and the irreversible, and very much guaranteed, death of the legume.

There’s no shortage of complaints on the internet constructed by farmers who have had their fill of the drifting herbicide and all it has offered them – poisoned soybeans and a drained bank account.  That’s right, Insurance companies can’t cover the effects of herbicide when it spreads through drift. More simply put, if you neighbor chooses to spray Dicamba on their resistant crops and you happen to have soybeans in your field that year, that cool breeze you feel as you walk out the door is not doing you or your wallet any favors for that year, nor for the years to come.

Therefore, if you’re a farmer with a good working and cooperative relationship with your neighbors, consider yourself in luck. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the case for the majority.  A murder on the Arkansas-Missouri line has already been committed due to the effects of one farmer’s (one might say irresponsible) spraying of Dicamba next to his farmer’s nonresistant soybeans.

The most important question now remains – Can this all be avoided? According to Monsanto, it can be. In fact, they say it should and should have been avoided from the very beginning.

When Ty Witten of Monsanto was interviewed regarding the herbicide use, he explained that the growers are simply applying the pesticide incorrectly.  In a different article provided by AgWeb, UA Extension agent Robert Goodson explained that, “Some guys are doing it absolutely right by the label and are still ending up with Dicamba on a neighbor’s crops through volatility.”

Witten also offered the insightful excuse that Dicamba is getting unfairly blamed, seeing as how other herbicides can mask themselves as Dicamba. He said they “had been seeing some of that.”

On an end note, I will leave you with the all-encompassing quote given by Monsanto’s North American Crop Protection Systems Lead regarding the devastation of Dicamba-affected farmers from the draining of funds and losses of nearly 30% of their yields due to the decisions of a neighbor and the event of a light breeze.

“The beautiful and difficult thing about Biology is things happen.”

What do you all think? Please comment below.

About me

My name is Hannah Van Zant and I am an Evolution and Ecology major at The Ohio State University.

Amongst other things, I enjoy being out and about enjoying music and exploring all that life offers here in Columbus, as well as staying in and enjoying the last few days of my HBONOW free-trial.










This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.


The Threat of Water

by Avery Menear

Avery is a third-year Animal Science major at The Ohio State University. She plans to become a zookeeper when she graduates and knows how important plants and plant systems are to the environment and the animals that live in it.

oak leaf

Figure 1 : Penn State Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology Archives, Penn State University, Bugwood.org

A Dailymail article caught my eye this morning. It was titled “Plant disease ravaging olive groves in Spain could threaten oak trees if it reaches Britain…” and out of pure curiosity I clicked on it to read about what it was.

In Britain, broadleaf trees are dangerously susceptible to the disease and this European country fears that at some point it will make its way over from Spain.

The disease Xylella fastidiosa is most commonly known as bacterial leaf scorch because of the way that it rots the leaves. The pattern it leaves behind is almost like someone to a flame to just the outside of the leaves.

Xylella fastidiosa gets its name from the area of the plant that it affects.

The bacteria live in the water systems or xylem of the plant. Too much of the bacteria and the plant’s water supply is compromised.

It doesn’t just affect oak trees though. One of the biggest problems with this disease is its ability to wipe out entire groves of olive vines.

This disease has been found in North America, Taiwan, Italy, Spain and France. Britain’s worry is that their regulations with incoming plats are not strict enough to vet out the disease before it arrives.

  1. fastidiosa is spread by insects that carry the bacterium with them. Currently there is no cure for this disease, only prevention.

For now, all Britain can do is try and make sure that no infected plants make it over into their country.



This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Gray Mold: A Blessing and a Curse

By Brant Wickline, Sustainable Plant Systems

I started learning about this disease in my PLNTPTH 3001 class this year. It is a very interesting fungus and I hope you enjoy learning about it.

Let’s first look at how any type of disease occurs. We use what we call the disease pyramid. The four sides of the pyramid include…

  • Susceptible Host
  • Virulent (can cause disease) Pathogen
  • Conducive Environment
  • Time

It’s important to add in time because unlike an injury to a plant a disease takes time to develop in a plant

*Without one of these sides of the pyramid the disease will not occur.

Now we are going to look at the sides of the pyramid for the disease of Gray Mold

  • Susceptible Host —- Grapes
  • Virulent Pathogen —– Botrytis cinera
  • Conducive Environment —- Hot and Humid Climate
  • And don’t forget time

In this disease, a fungus grows on soft berries like strawberries and grapes. It sucks the moisture out of the fruit and leaves behind what is left which is mostly sugar.

The title of the blog  said blessing and curse. This, so far, has just shown how this fungus is a curse. How could it be a blessing?

This sugar that is left on what is left of the fruit is used to make a very highly concentrated wine. If you’ve ever heard of Botrytised Wine this is where it comes from. I have to warn you though, it is a very expensive wine, however, don’t let that distract you from how delicious and sweet this dessert wine is.

The best vintners learn to infect their plants with Botrytis cinera and harvest their fruit at the precise moment in order to make this wine. If they are too late then they will lose their entire crop.

Lots of fruit are susceptible to this fungus. With the growing population, we need to be able to produce more food to feed everyone. Diseases like this affect everyone nationwide.


About me

My grandparents own a small local florist and garden center in Xenia, Ohio. I a have been around plants all my life. Sustainable Plant Systems was the perfect major for someone like me. Hope you enjoyed. 🙂