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Companies Working on New Herbicide Action Modes

Gil Gullickson 11/22/2011 @ 2:33pm Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

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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