Luke Bozeman, BASF, holds an educational “nozzle box,” which has various nozzles along with copies of water-sensitive paper showing the spray pattern and droplet size that each nozzle will produce.
Luke Bozeman, BASF, holds an educational “nozzle box,” which has various nozzles along with copies of water-sensitive paper showing the spray pattern and droplet size that each nozzle will produce.

Engenia is BASF’s most recent improvement in the formulation of dicamba active-ingredient herbicides and will only be available for use with dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybean crops, which Monsanto has proposed for trait deregulation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The biotech-traited deregulation for soybeans and perhaps cotton is anticipated during early 2015. The herbicides to use in conjunction with the traited crops are also anticipated to receive approval at approximately the same time but this approval must come from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA and USDA have linked seed and chemistry for near simultaneous approval in the past.

“We made the decision early on that Engenia was being developed specifically for use in the dicamba-tolerant cropping system. So, we approached the regulatory process from that angle,” said Luke Bozeman, BASF technical market manager with Engenia responsibilities. “Engenia has been developed specifically for over-the-top use in dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton, and it made the most sense to not broaden the availability to the market place in other areas where the overall stewardship effort could possibly be diluted.”

Other dicamba-based products from BASF will remain on the market and will continue to be labeled for use other than post-emerge on the dicamba-tolerant crops. Although Engenia will provide the best-in-class reduction of volatility potential, BASF has not had big problems with volatility of its other dicamba products when used per label directions. Because dicamba could be used on many more acres and in close proximity of crops sensitive to dicamba, Engenia development was a strategic move to gain registration for use in conjunction with dicamba-tolerant crops.

“BASF discovered dicamba in 1958 and brought it into the grains and row-crop markets in 1964. It has been under continuous improvement ever since. The first product that was commercialized was Banvel, and then we had Marksman, Clarity, Distinct, Status and now Engenia. And each one has been a marked improvement or a formulation designed to maximize certain attributes,” explained Bozeman.

Two Criticals For Engenia

“There were two critical triggers that were looked at and identified as necessary for Engenia. One of those was maintaining the efficacy of dicamba. We didn’t want to lose any of the benefits of the herbicide. The second one was reduction in overall volatility of dicamba and what we tend to call secondary drift or movement. Some off-target movement can be confused with volatility even though it is not a true chemical definition of volatility,” the technical market manager noted.

A type of other movement that isn’t a true chemical definition of volatility might be a temperature inversion air current that has been associated with other herbicides in the past. Tests referenced by Bozeman measure nanograms of product found in cubic meters of air after suspended particles following application have dissipated.

“Engenia has done great in all of our tests that we use to measure secondary loss parameters—all the way from the laboratory to field testing using vacuum pumps and air collection devices. There is a significant reduction in any secondary loss profile compared to other dicamba formulations,” Bozeman said.

“Monsanto is in charge of the seed and trait. I would argue that it is best in class in bringing new traits to market. I’ve got good confidence that they are moving it forward. We have good confidence that our regulatory team has all the requirements for Engenia approval in place,” he said.

Monsanto Has Its Own Herbicide

Monsanto has also submitted its own dicamba formulation products for approval. The registrations of the Monsanto and BASF chemistry are separate. Monsanto has reported that it is registering a dicamba alone product (XtendiMax) and dicamba plus Roundup (Roundup Xtend) premix product.

Engenia is a dicamba-only product. There has been some confusion in the market about whether the products to be sold by Monsanto would actually be BASF technology formulations. “Engenia is specific to BASF. It is completely different than Monsanto’s dicamba product,” Bozeman said.

“We fully believe that most of the applications of Engenia will include a glyphosate of some sort, but to have a solo dicamba product allows a lot of flexibility for what can be mixed with it, use rates and how the product is applied. So, we decided initially to only go with a dicamba-only product,” he further explained. “Right now, the label going through registration does not specify individual products that can and cannot be applied with it from a herbicide standpoint. The label is pretty broad. We try to write our labels, particularly for tank mixing with other herbicides, to not be too restrictive as long as the other herbicide is approved for use. Right now, we have not identified any herbicide that would cause us concern enough to say do not apply with Engenia.”

BASF Focused on Stewardship

BASF has put a huge effort into stewardship efforts on proper application of pesticides, including Engenia, by sponsoring the On-Target Application Academy training program, which has trained more than 4,000 growers and quite a few custom applicators during the past two years, and more academies are being held this year.

“Spray drift control is a critical component of our stewardship message with Engenia. We can positively impact the volatility profile with formulation, which we’ve done with Engenia. But once the product is delivered to the persons applying it, then we want to make sure they have all the tools necessary and all the knowledge necessary to make an application that does not allow any spray drift onto their neighbors’ crops,” Bozeman noted.

He said newer nozzles on the market today produce only between 1 percent and 3 percent driftable fines.  “These are the nozzles that we are really focused on for use with Engenia.” Dicamba is a systemic herbicide; therefore, a small droplet is not necessary because hitting a portion of the weed means the dicamba will be absorbed into the tissue of the plant and translocated to the roots and growing points of the plant for full plant kill.

Tight regulation of the yet-to-be registered seed means that only a small number of demonstration plots can be planted in very controlled situations in 2014. Monsanto has supplied BASF with enough dicamba-tolerant soybean and cotton seed to plant about 40 demonstration plots in 2014. Bozeman noted, “We won’t be demonstrating the seed per say; we will be demonstrating the use of Engenia in a herbicide-seed system to control a wide range of weeds, in particular some of the glyphosate-resistant weeds. The stewardship demonstration component is the second leg—how to apply it so that you don’t negatively impact an adjoining sensitive crop.”