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Companies Working on New Herbicide Action Modes

Weed
resistance to glyphosate has sparked a flurry of new corn and soybean herbicide
premixes and even new active ingredients in recent years. Still, the last new modes of
action were developed in the 1980s.

So
what’s up? “The ‘easy’ ones (modes
of action) have been harvested,” says Christoph Wegner, BASF senior vice
president of global research and development for its crop protection division.
“Now, it is much tougher (to find new ones.)”

That’s
not for lack of trying by chemical companies.  BASF officials discussed attempts at developing new corn and
soybean herbicide action modes at its its
Global Agricultural Solutions Press Info Day in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

“There
have been lots of compounds that nearly made the market,” says Wegner. “But
there were problems that always resulted. It may have had good efficacy, but
had a problem like root phytotoxicity that it couldn’t overcome at the end of
the day.”

The
tide is turning, though. Several chemical companies with active discovery
programs are cranking up the research, due to glyphosate-resistant weeds.

“There
was a belief that glyphosate meant the end of herbicides in corn and soybeans,”
says Markus Heldt, president of BASF’s crop protection division. The sheer
number of glyphosate-resistant weeds changed that line of thinking, though.

“It
is definitely a target for the research community to look at finding a new mode
of action all together,” says Heldt. “Something novel, equivalent to a
glyphosate with residual, would be a game changer.”

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