New Kinds of Chemistry

March 27, 2010 11:54 AM

Most of us have a stitch in our side from trying to keep up with technology. Through the years, agriculture has often led the way in industrialized advances.

So it might come as a surprise to learn that while many new products are entering the marketplace, all aren't novel. There hasn't been a new herbicide mode of action discovered since 1983. Much of our cropland is devoted to trait technology that is 14 years old. Pests continue to circumvent control.

With that in mind, BASF is packing its portfolio with products that offer new ways to manage risk, says Rick Chamblee, manager of BASF technical services. By 2013, the company
expects to expand new offerings to nine new actives and 28 new products.

No seeds yet. You may know BASF by its products more than its name. Basagran brought no-till mainstream. Banvel, Poast and Pursuit are long-standing compounds. The company is the leader in developing nontransgenic approaches to herbicide tolerance, such as Clearfield rice and wheat.

It has successfully promoted Headline fungicide and the concept of "plant health” for yield protection in row crops. Dig deep enough and you'll find that the German-based company, founded in 1865 as a manufacturer of dyes, was also instrumental in first synthesizing ammonia for fertilizer.

Today, agriculture products and nutrition represent 9% of BASF's total sales but 35% of its research and development, with 14% of sales going back into research and development.

Unlike its agrochemical competitors, BASF is not a seed company, nor does it intend to become one, says Rick Van Genderen, director of value chain management for BASF Plant Science. "Our strategy is to be a trait and technology partner with seed companies that need our products,” he says.

BASF Plant Science is collaborating with Monsanto Company to develop drought, yield and stress-tolerant traits in corn, cotton, soybeans and canola. The first drought-tolerant product has been submitted for regulatory review and is expected to debut in 2012.

Several seed companies have joined hands to access BASF Plant Science's NutriDense technology—stacked output traits designed to enhance animal feed performance. Traits that increase rice yield by up to 50% are targeted for 2012, and dicamba-tolerant soybeans are expected by 2014.

Fungicides remain a core component. Headline AMP (a combination of strobilurin and triazole) heads to the corn field in 2010. Headline's active ingredient (pyraclostrobin) is now in Stamina as a seed treatment for corn, sweet corn, wheat, barley, legumes and rye. Charter provides early seed and seedling protection in wheat and grain.

Kixor herbicide technology heads to the field this spring as the first in a class of chemistry known as pyrimidinedione, a new breed of PPO inhibitor. Four formulations fall under the Kixor umbrella: Sharpen, OpTill, Integrity and Treevix. New soil-applied herbicides for corn and soybeans and a new postemergence herbicide for corn are promised by 2012.


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