We have interviewed Dr. Dan Westberg many times over the past several years about BASF Crop Protection products, particularly his work with Kixor herbicide technology. But, we took a few minutes to get to know dapper “Dr. Dan” a little better at this year’s Commodity Classic.
Dan’s interest in weeds goes back to his roots. “I grew up on a small farm in northwest Arkansas and I started to work when I was in college at the (University of Arkansas) Altheimer lab with the weed science group,” Dan said. “So I got very interested in weed science and controlling weeds in row crops and helping growers solve the problems that they had.” He got his Masters in Weed Science at Arkansas and his PhD from North Carolina State University and then took a field position with Sandoz.
He joined BASF 21 years ago when the company bought the Sandoz corn business, and that allowed young Dr. Westberg to see the world. “For the first couple of years I got to travel internationally to develop markets outside of the U.S.,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to visit Brazil, Argentina, virtually every country in Europe, particularly France and Germany.”
In 2002, Dan became responsible for the global development of Kixor herbicide technology and was able to play a role in its launch. “You don’t get the opportunity more than once in a career to work from start to finish with an active ingredient, so it’s been really rewarding,” he said.
Now the weed control expert’s big focus is on helping farmers fight glyphosate resistant weeds. “Glyphosate-resistant Palmer Ameranth has really taken over the mid-south and the southeast to the point that growers are losing some of their fields to this weed,” he said. “And this last year in 2011 was a tipping point for waterhemp in many areas of the Midwest. Certainly the southern third to half of Illinois and Missouri are probably already there with the level of problems that they have with waterhemp and it’s something that we need to start dealing with proactively.”
BASF has a number of tools in its herbicide portfolio to deal with problem weeds. “It actually represents ten different sites of action that we can bring to bear on these weed populations. It’s the most that anybody has in the country,” Dan says, noting that they can tailor specific programs to different areas of the country. BASF’s pre- and post-emergence products include Verdict, Status, Op-Till Pro, and Armezon – among others.
Learn more about Dr. Dan Westberg and BASF herbicides in this interview: BASF's Dr. Dan Westberg