From GPS-coordinated combines with integrated recording
applications for precision crop information, to accelerated
development of new hybrid seeds, genetically modified seed with
traits resistant to insects and tolerant to specific herbicides,
never before have there been more choices available to the
When it comes to crops, one of the less predictable
variables, yet offering the widest opportunities in how to farm,
is that of pest controls.
Pests, as defined as United States Department of Agriculture,
are weeds, insects and diseases.
What are the primary pest concerns for today's farmer?
Weeds! Worse yet, glyphosate-resistant weeds -- resistant to
According to local University of Extension adviser John
Fulton, local fields are seeing two of the 22 globally
problematic weeds: waterhemp, found primarily in soybeans, and
mare's-tail. And not so far away, Indiana adds giant ragweed to
waterhemp and mare's-tail.
The development of plant varieties tolerant to herbicides has
led to simpler, less expensive weed control and better
stewardship of the land through reduced tillage. Now, however,
after 30 years of heavy use and dependency on Roundup (glyphosate),
some changes are needed.
In November 2012, a Purdue Extension research report said:
"The existence of glyphosate-resistant weeds requires producers
to use additional herbicide tools and cultural practices to
effectively manage the weeds."
Agricultural companies are responding to producers' needs,
taking strong action by joining forces to develop chemical
technologies and gene resistance to hard-to-control weeds, as
well as continuing to offer support and advancements in whole
pest control systems.
The following is a brief review of some of the industry
announcements made this past year that offer a glimpse into the
future. There is more than a hint of expectation for more rapid
advancements in seed traits, chemical and system developments.
Herbicide and application technology systems
n In September, Dow AgroSciences announced Arylex™, a
new active ingredient for herbicides. The new molecule was
developed with Taminco, the world's largest producer of
alkylamines and alkylamine derivatives.
Aryex is the first member of a new structural class of
synthetic auxin herbicides. Arylex will be used in low-use-rate
herbicides for the control of broadleaf weeds and has utility in
Initial registrations are anticipated beginning in 2014.
n In February, Dow AgroSciences announced that the
Enlist™ Weed Control System is awaiting regulatory approvals.
According to the news release: "Enlist Duo™ herbicide with
Colex-D™ Technology would provide greater than 95 percent
control of several key weed species that are tough to control or
glyphosate-resistant. Used with best application practices,
Colex-D Technology reduces drift by up to 90 percent compared to
other 2,4-D and glyphosate herbicide formulations."
Mark Peterson, global biology leader for the Enlist system
with Dow AgroSciences, spoke on a panel regarding the path
forward for herbicide-resistant weed management.
"Herbicides have been shown to be a key part of efficient,
sustainable weed management systems that maximize production
while preserving soil and water resources," Peterson said.
"It is important to note that herbicide-tolerant crops have
enabled great advances in soil conservation and carbon
sequestration," he added. "Having farmers go back to widespread
tillage to control weeds will negate those environmental
Enlist is a next-generation system that combines innovative
traits, herbicides and stewardship to deliver weed control.
Enlist corn and Enlist soybean traits were approved in
October 2012 in Canada for food, feed and environmental release,
and Enlist Duo™ herbicide was approved in Canada in May 2013.
[to top of second column]
n The most recent announcement, made on Oct. 3, was that Dow
AgroSciences and Synpromics R&D plan to collaborate in plant
"Technologies such as those developed by Synpromics can
significantly enhance Dow AgroSciences' tool kit for developing
improved crops," said Daniel R. Kittle, Ph.D., vice president for
research and development with Dow AgroSciences. He added that the
liaison would give the agricultural industry significant potential
to accelerate the gene discovery and product development of new
Enlist E3™ soybeans are being jointly developed by Dow
AgroSciences and MS Technologies. The three-trait gene stack offers
tolerance to 2,4-D, glyphosate and glufosinate.
Pending approvals, the companies anticipate launching Enlist E3
soybeans to key export geographies in 2015. Enlist E3 soybean
cultivation registrations are being sought in the United States and
South American countries.
In April, Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto announced agreements to
cross-license advanced corn trait technology. Dow AgroSciences has
licensed to Monsanto its proprietary Enlist corn herbicide-tolerant
trait on a nonexclusive basis. Monsanto licensed to Dow its
third-generation corn rootworm technology, Corn Rootworm III, on a
The agreements pave the way for U.S. introduction of
next-generation SmartStax products, pending regulatory approvals, by
the end of the decade.
In July, Dow AgroSciences and Meiji Seika Pharma Co. announced
signing an exclusive fungicide co-development, commercialization
agreement. The fungicide offers potential use applications in
cereals, vegetables, fruits and ornamentals as a foliar treatment.
"The mode of action is new in cereal disease control, and the
compound does not show cross-resistance to other modes of action,"
the announcement said.
Dow AgroSciences intends to submit this for regulatory approval
in the European Union in 2014, with commercial launch expected in
Other companies not mentioned that are working on research and
development applications in plant biotechnology are BASF, Bayer
CropScience, DuPont and Syngenta.
Given all the advancements and some challenges created by
technology, the farmer will continue to need to weigh many options
for years ahead.
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]
The Purdue University Extension article
below discusses in more detail some of the pros, cons and general
information about problem weeds and technology:
and Dicamba-tolerant Crops -- Some Facts to Consider" (PDF)