Herbicide-resistant weeds seriously threaten long-term agriculture production in many parts of the United States. An industry-wide effort by major farm groups and agribusiness companies ask farmers to vow now to help stop the epidemic-like spread.

“I will know my weeds. I will scout my fields regularly. I will think beyond herbicides and diversify my approach to weed management.” That’s the vow of Take Action on Herbicide-resistance Management, a campaign between university weed specialists, commodity groups and companies to get the weed-fighting word out.

The program was spearheaded by the United Soybean Board. Herbicide-resistant weeds cost U.S. farmers $2 billion annually, according to University of Wisconsin researcher Vince Davis.

“With the direction the industry is going toward, breeding herbicide-tolerant traits into the crops, farmers need to be more aware of the products they can and should use, and Take Action is helping spread this message to them,” says Jim Musser, soy checkoff farmer-leader and soybean farmer from Mount Joy, Pa. “Diversification is important. In my own case, rotating herbicide modes and sites of action on our farm helps with weed control.”

Even for farmers who haven’t dealt with herbicide-resistant weeds, it’s important that they’re familiar with the ones that pose the biggest resistance threat and also with the best production practices to manage them.

BASF, Bayer, DuPont, Dow, Monsanto and Syngenta joined the soy checkoff in 2011 to establish a unified approach to educating farmers on weed-management practices. Corn, cotton, sorghum and wheat organizations have now joined the effort.

Take Action encourages farmers to arm themselves with more weapons to wield against weeds, such as crop rotation, residual herbicides and multiple herbicide modes of action. It’s all about being prepared. What happens if a farmer finds Palmer amaranth in a field without knowing that one plant alone can produce 1.5 million seeds in a growing season? What starts out as a few glyphosate-resistant plants can suddenly overtake an entire soybean field. But timely weed identification and proper management can prevent such an outbreak.

To find out more information and helpful publications, to take a weed-knowledge quiz or to make the vow, go to Take Action on Weed website.