Investment in research now is vital to prevent herbicide resistance in broadleaved weeds becoming as big a problem as blackgrass to UK cereal farmers, says Dow AgroSciences.
With increasing legislative pressure threatening the range of products available to farmers, Dow AgroSciences’ UK Managing Director Scott Boothey is adamant that the company will continue to invest in the science of broad-leaved weed control in cereal crops.
“Our expertise in this area is unrivalled across Europe. In 1985, we introduced fluroxypyr, the active ingredient of STARANE 2, which marked a step change for farmers,” says Mr Boothey. “Suddenly the threat of cleavers, the most competitive arable weed, was removed.”
While the company is committed to innovation in areas such grass weeds and cereal diseases, it is not ignoring established markets.
“In Europe, part of our focus is now on keeping our products within the farmer’s toolbox as ever tighter regulation constrains product innovation and threatens existing products.
“Globally, we invest in our key molecules to ensure we gain optimum performance to underpin farmers’ success. For instance, the launch of SPITFIRE (fluroxypyr + florasulam) three years ago represented a major advance with a formulation tailored specifically to meet the challenges of the UK climate and seasons.”
Dow AgroSciences is developing integrated approaches that use every aspect of arable agronomy including rotations, cultivations and sowing dates alongside the right crop protection programme to help farmers manage weeds successfully. The approaches are being shared through the company’s LifeCycle programme. This online hub provides the latest information from Dow AgroSciences’ own research and trials, along with feedback and experiences from farmers and advisers.
Research programmes are reviewed to meet real needs. This includes work to address the increasing challenge of herbicide resistance emerging in some key broad-leaved weeds including poppies, mayweeds and chickweeds which threaten cereal production.
“We are working to identify, at this early stage, how to manage the challenge and protect valuable active ingredients for the long-term,” said Eileen Paterson, Dow AgroSciences’ resistance specialist.
Across Europe, Dow AgroSciences has invested considerable resources in its own right in field trials and at its own research stations. In addition, the company has committed to a four year project in conjunction with AHDB-HGCA as well as other crop protection manufacturers.
“Everyone involved has a vested interest in learning, as fast as possible, how to manage the threat of resistance,” says Mr Boothey. “And it is only by taking the matter seriously now that we have any chance of avoiding another problem of the scale which blackgrass poses to UK wheat production.”