Their names almost make them sound like thevillainsin an old John Wayne movie: Palmer Amaranth, TallWaterhemp, and Giant Ragweed.

In reality, theyreamong theworstinvaders inafarmers soybean fieldsprolificweedsthat rob our food crops of moisture and nutrients, depress our yields, and resist many forms of herbicide.

To fight them, we need the best technology availableand on October 31, theEnvironmental Protection Agencytossed us a lifeline.

Regulatorsextended for two years our ability to use aform of a soybean that resists dicamba, a traditional crop-protection productthat helps us defeat these terrible weeds. Last year, farmers planted about 25 million acres of dicamba-tolerant soybeansand cotton. This year, that figuretopped 50million acres, in a compelling testament to the powerand effectivenessofthese crops.

Shortly afterthe EPA announced its decision,Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perduemay have put it best: It presents farmers with options.

Thats what we need out here: As manysafe and provenoptions as possible for growing the food we need.

This technology, in fact,is a friend of sustainable agriculture. It allowsfarmers to grow more food on less land. It keeps consumer prices low. It helps usconserve our wild spaces. These are important economic and environmental benefitsexactly the sort of payoff we should expect from a new technology.

Last summer, I used dicamba on soybeans for the first time.My fields were almost weed-free. They were the cleanest Ive seen in quite a while.At harvest, I was pleased withthefinalresult. I became persuaded that thisis an excellent option and farmers like me ought to have access to it.

The freedom to use dicamba, however, also entails important responsibilities.

This ispretty basic, but it must be said: Farmers who use dicamba must read the label and follow the instructions.

As the time for reregistration of dicamba by the EPA approached,a few voices had called on the EPA to block new uses of dicamba, even though this is atime-testedproduct that farmers have applied safely around the world since its introduction in 1967.By granting a two-year approval, the EPA wisely has recognized the value of the productfor controlling weeds. Italso has fine-tuned the regulations that govern its use.

Over the next two years, wefarmershave tomake sure weget it right. Lets study the label, follow its rules, and use dicamba properly. Check the nozzle tips on your sprayers, use drift-reduction agents,clean out your tanks,create borders between fields, and apply crop-protection products only at approved times.Some of the rules for 2019 will be different from those in 2018and well need to make sure that we understandall ofthe changes.

Also, lets talk to our neighbors.In my area, at least, werecommunicatingmore often, farmer to farmer,about our planting choices. We discuss who is using dicamba and where, trading information about best practices, and so on.

As we tally up this years harvests and begin tomakeschoices about what well plant in the spring, Im pleased that well have the option of growing dicamba-resistant crops. Farming is a tough business in the best of circumstances and its even tougher in a world of climate change and trade conflict.

The EPAs sensible decision will make farming in 2019a little bit easierandwhenwe all do our part, well continue to benefit from an excellent tool for fighting weeds.

A version of this column first appeared Nov 6 atThe Hill.