Crop Tech - October 2019

Farm Journal's Crop Tech ( Lindsey Benne )

Syngenta Unveils $30 Million ‘Trait Conversion Accelerator’ Facility

Syngenta recently opened a new Trait Conversion Accelerator, a $30 million expansion at its Nampa, Idaho, research and development and seed production facility. The company plans to use the highly automated, controlled environment corn breeding facility to speed up the time frame to introduce new corn traits.

“We have 30% more breeding capacity, we have 50% more trialing ability and we have expanded our collaborations with other companies so we can create greater genetic diversity and provide more options to the marketplace,” explains Trevor Hohls, global head of seed product development for Syngenta.

Currently, Syngenta has the third-largest global germplasm pool, which is enhanced by seven breeding collaborations. The company invests more than $1.3 billion annually in research and development, Hohls adds, with much of that going to grow the
company’s Agrisure traits portfolio.

Corteva Invests in Biologicals

Corteva has invested in Lavie Bio, an agricultural biologicals subsidiary of Evogene. The deal includes an exchange of all shares of Taxon Biosciences, which since 2015 has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Corteva, for an equity investment in Lavie.

The microbial collection and product pipeline of Taxon are said to be synergetic with Lavie’s “biology driven design” product development. Lavie uses a proprietary computational predictive biology platform, developed by Evogene, leveraging big data and advanced informatics through discovery, optimization and development stages to create next-generation, microbiome-based products.

As part of this investment, Corteva will have rights to Lavie’s corn and soybean product pipelines.

EPA Restores Sulfoxaflor Insecticide Use for Farmers

EPA is again allowing the widespread use of sulfoxaflor insecticide. Sold under the brand names Closer and Transform, sulfoxaflor controls aphids in soybeans and tarnished plant bugs (lygus) in cotton. It also can be used for insect control in corn, sorghum, alfalfa and various fruits and vegetables.

Originally approved for farmers’ use in 2013, the insecticide was positioned as an alternative to neonicotinoids. However, EPA banned sulfoxaflor use in 2015 following a lawsuit brought by beekeepers, environmental groups and honey-industry advocates.

Snap a Photo, Estimate Corn Yield

Pioneer has launched the “Pioneer Corn Yield Estimator” to help farmers gather yield estimates faster and with a high level of accuracy. The tool, available as part of the Pioneer mobile app, uses machine learning to analyze kernels quickly and estimate yield based on kernel count, stand count and kernels per bushel.

Each sample requires a minimum number of pictures and angles. It also requires the husks and silks to be removed, but the ear doesn’t need to be removed from the stalk. The tool walks farmers through this process as well as entering the remaining information before providing a yield estimate.

The company says the tool is the first of a more connected Pioneer digital ecosystem that includes a Pioneer Seed mobile app and revamped website.

Valent to Offer New Insecticide and Herbicide in 2020

Pending EPA approval, Valent will be offering Ampex-EZ, a neonicotinoid that includes the active ingredient clothianidin. When applied, the product is systemic and moves via the plant’s xylem to control corn rootworm, white grub, seed corn maggot, wireworms and black cutworm. The product is compatible with liquid fertilizer, seed treatments and traits and can be added to existing in-furrow starter programs. Ampex-EZ carries only a caution label and requires no special equipment or closed handling system.

Valent will also be launching Scout, its first glufosinate herbicide product for 2020. Scout provides pre- and post-emergent control of weeds in systems with LibertyLink traits or other forms of glufosinate tolerance. Rates are as follows:

  • First post-emergent application: 32 fl. oz. per acre when weeds are 3" or shorter.
  • Second post-emergent application (if needed): 32 fl. oz. per acre 21 days later.

Scout comes in a 265-gal. tote for cotton and soybeans and should be mixed with AMS adjuvant at 1 lb. to 3 lb. per acre. Valent says applicators are most effective between two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset.