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BASF Product Updates Include Urease Inhibitor, Dicamba Herbicide

Bill Spiegel 06/14/2014 @ 10:31am I grew up in north-central Kansas, and am the Fourth Generation to maintain and manage our farm; we grow wheat, soybeans and grain sorghum. I'm a 1993 graduate of Kansas State University in ag communications.

At its bi-annual summit for the agricultural media, BASF announced several innovations. Some are now available or will soon debut in 2015; others may hit the market in a decade or so. BASF spends $2 million per day on research and development in its agri-business division, and company president Peter Eckes it is all part of an effort to feed a growing world population.

“Farmers have a lot of challenges. They need to produce more with fewer resources and there are challenges in the volatility they face,” Eckes explains. “We want to support farmers in dealing with these challenges and provide them with the tools and help they need throughout the growing season.”

BASF Plant Science features three core strategies: yield increase and stress tolerance, herbicide tolerance and fungal resistance. To that end, the products and news announced at the event this week meet those strategies.

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Limus: a new urease inhibitor

Most nitrogen fertilizers are urea-based, and the company’s Limus urease inhibitor will reduce nitrogen loss between application and plant uptake, says Juergen Huff, senior vice president of crop protection.

In adverse conditions, urea in soil binds to urease enzyme active sites, then hydrolyzes into carbon dioxide and ammonia. These are released into the soil and escape into the air. Limus blocks active sites of these enzymes, preventing urea from breaking down into ammonia, adds Nick Fassler, product manager.

In field trials, Limus reduced ammonia emissions by up to 90% compared to untreated urea.

Aimed at making fertilizer more stable during plant growth cycles, Limus is optimized for both urea and UAN mixtures.

The company expects Limus to be available in the U.S. in 2015.

Engenia: a new dicamba herbicide

Engenia, a dicamba herbicide designed for dicamba-tolerant crops, will be available to farmers in 2015, according to Luke Bozeman, technical market manager.

Engenia has reduced volatility than BASF’s Clarity herbicide, already considered one of the most stable of all commercial dicamba products, say company officials.

Dicamba-tolerant traits in seeds are the industry’s response to the rapidly-growing glyphosate tolerant weed problem, and will give farmers an option for post-emerge control of marestail and pigweeds.

John Frihauf, ag biologist, says stewardship with Engenia will be critical.

“We want to diversity the modes of action when using Engenia. For instance, growers can use Zidua or Optill-Pro pre-emerge, followed by a tankmix of Engenia and glyphosate,” Frihauf says. “We encourage farmers also to use crop rotation and sound agronomic practices.”

Bozemean adds that dicamba is an ideal product for post-emerge applications. It requires a lower rate than many herbicides and is effective on a host of weeds. “If it drifts, however, it can cause problems in neighboring fields,” he says.

BASF researchers have studied the effectiveness of various spray nozzles used to apply Engenia. In a Nebraska study, BASF found that driftability was less of an issue with TTI nozzles, compared to XR nozzles. Bozeman says the company will work with growers to implement sound stewardship protocols and ensure sprayers will be equipped with the proper nozzles when spraying Engenia.

In-furrow application of Priaxor in soybeans, Headline in corn.

A four-ounce, in-furrow application of the BASF fungicide Headline Amp can increase corn yields three to six bushels, while a four-ounce, in-furrow application of Priaxor can increase soybean yields 3-5 bushels, according to Brianne Reeves, technical service specialist.

The fungicide helps boost root growth, seedling vigor and seedling emergence, plus help thwart soil-borne diseases.

“The fungicides help improve growth efficiency, even when no disease is present. Better root growth means more efficient water uptake and nutrient uptake, which combine to improve yields,” Reeves says.

New insecticides for pinching and sucking insects in corn

BASF is aggressively ramping up its insecticide portfolio, first with its acquisition of the Japanese miticide company Mitsui Chemicals Agro, and second with its work on two new s working on labeling and registering two new insecticides, one for pinching and sucking insects and the other for chewing insects.

The former features a new, unnamed mode of action for aphids in field and vegetable crops, says Joe Stout, entomology product leader. It has low acute toxicity to bees and beneficial arthropods.

The latter, designed for corn, soybeans, cotton, potatoes and vegetables, also uses an unnamed product with improved potency, letting producers use less product. The product is safer to bees and other beneficial than current products, yet remains just as effective on target pests, says Rebecca Willis, research scientist. 

Both products could be registered and available by 2019.

Enhanced Resistance to Corn Stalk Rot

The combination of continuous corn, no-till and higher corn seeding rates is great for yields, but often results in lodging caused by stalk rot. A team of BASF researchers launched an initiative in 2013 to find a biotech solution to the problem of stalk rot, by using genes from plant species showing natural resistance to the disease, which could inhibit water and nutrient uptake in the stalk and lodging.
Preliminary greenhouse testing of a resistant gene showed a dramatic decrease in the severity of stalk rot in corn. “We are optimistic that we’ll be able to provide growers a tool for stalk rot resistance,” says Chris Kafer, Senior Scientist.
The technology is in its early stages and is at least 15 years away from commercial release, Kafer says.

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