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What's Coming From BASF

If last spring’s wet weather worried you about nitrogen (N) losses in your crops, you may soon be getting a tool from BASF to help curb them.

“Between application and plant uptake, 50% of nitrogen content in fertilizer is lost,” says Jurgen Huff, senior vice president of BASF’s global functional crop care unit. Huff addressed media at the company’s recent media briefing in Limburgerhof, Germany. “It is not reaching the plant. It is lost.”

BASF plans to launch its LIMUS technology to do this by mid-decade. LIMUS technology aims to boost efficiency of urea-based fertilizers.

“The technology we are bringing to market has the effect to increase the stability and to slow down the decomposition of fertilizer in soils,” says Huff. “It slows the ammonia release in the soil. We are seeing a 3% to 5% increase in yield and greatly reduced N losses into the atmosphere by applying this new technology.”

Following are other technologies and what they include. 

• Water management 
This technology will help better distribute soil water so plants make better use of it. “Up to 50% of water savings in irrigation costs are possible,” Huff says. “We have an aggressive time line for this to launch this decade.”

• Dicamba-tolerant soybeans
Dicamba-tolerant soybeans are a joint venture between Monsanto and BASF. Monsanto has developed the trait that’s part of the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Crop System. Both Monsanto and BASF are developing dicamba herbicide formulations that the firms say are lower in off-target movement potential than current dicamba formulations.

BASF’s candidate in this system is Engenia herbicide. Monsanto’s new entries for this trait are Roundup Ready Xtend and XtendiMax.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced last May that it is conducting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for crop traits that tolerate growth-regulator herbicides like 2,4-D and dicamba.

It’s likely this technology will hit the market in 2015 or 2016, says Markus Heldt, president of BASF’s crop-production division. “We do not see it (the EIS) as an obstacle for making it to market, but it might be a year later than initially expected,” he says.

• Mobile microscope 
If you’ve ever been stumped about what crop disease you’re viewing while scouting your fields, a wireless handheld mobile microscope may enable you to obtain a quick diagnosis, say BASF officials.

The technology was launched in Brazil last August and will be tested in the U.S. this year. Here’s how it works. The farmer or crop scout photographs a leaf from the plant in question using the wireless handheld mobile microscope. The photo is then sent to a database in a BASF library or to an expert team for further analysis. The photo is then categorized and saved to a GIS-enabled map. Information regarding the malady is then conveyed back to the farmer or crop scout.

“It’s a way to capture information in the field,” says Elmar Groiss, global head of information technology for BASF’s crop protection division.

• Seed treatments
BASF’s acquisition last year of Becker Underwood, an Ames, Iowa, firm, is enabling it to increase its seed treatment offerings. One offering includes polymers that coat the seed to accomplish three things:
1. Provide better seed coating stability.
2. Minimize dust-off of active ingredients.
3. Improve plantability and seed flow.

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