Crop protection product pipeline unveiled

New modes of action in the pipeline at agricultural sciences company FMC should soon be entering growers’ crop protection toolboxes.

New modes of action in the pipeline at agricultural sciences company FMC should soon be entering growers’ crop protection toolboxes, the company has announced. Heather Briggs reports.

A new herbicide, Bixlozone, which is in the same class as clomazone and effective on grasses and broad-leaved weeds, is expected to be available in Europe around 2023.

FMC country leader UK/IE, Simon McMunn.

“We submitted Bixlozone, which can be used as a broad-spectrum herbicide with good black grass control in 2018,” said FMC country leader UK/IE Simon McMunn.

Two new fungicides with a broad-spectrum disease control are also in the company’s portfolio.

Bixafen launched this year in the US and Fluindapyr will be introduced in global markets with first sales around 2023 in the UK.

Fluindapyr is an SDHI which targets foliar disease on oilseed rape and cereals, controlling a range of challenges such as rusts and leaf spot.

UK trials are planned to start later this year for some of these new products, so growers can see them in action.

FMC vice president and business director, EMEA Marc Hullebroeck, said: “Although the expected time where those products can reach the market sounds quite distant, when you think about it, they are only about three harvests away.”

FMC vice president and business director, EMEA Marc Hullebroeck.

Following the acquisition of Cheminova (including Headland), and part of DuPont’s crop protection portfolio, FMC has increased its direct market access in Europe.

As a result of the acquisition of the Dupont R&D discovery organisation in 2017, further basic investigations exploring potential new mode of actions are underway as FMC increases its funding for research and development, added Mr Hullebroeck.

In addition, a wide range of molecules with new modes of action against key pests and diseases, including rusts and black-grass are soon expected to become available.

Among these are five brand new actives in the R&D discovery pipeline for weed control, another four for insect and nematode control, and six fungicides, the company announced, adding that its priority is on new modes of action.

Biological plant protection

While conventional chemistry remains the main focus for FMC, it sees an increasing role for biological plant protection which is already an important part of the portfolio.

“Demand is likely to be driven by moving goal posts as pests develop resistance and also consumer pressure to reduce pesticide usage,” said FMC head of Global Plant Health R&D and EMEA R&D director, Dr Duncan Aust.

These new tools are planned to help combat pest resistance by providing alternative modes of action including pest repellence, such as nematodes, he added.

The first biological products have already been launched in Brazil and Asia, and are expected to be ready for the European market in the near future.

FMC head of Global Plant Health R&D and EMEA R&D director, Dr Duncan Aust.

“Work is on-going on four different platforms; bio-fungicides, bio-nematicides, bio-insecticides, bio-stimulants and /or crop nutrition.

“We already have bio-fungicides for row crops, fruit and vegetables in the development and registration process in Europe, plus a bio-nematicide already approved for use in Brazil.”

He sees yield protection with biological seed treatments suppressing soil diseases such as fusarium and rhizoctonia solani as being important to the future.

“We have been working on a strain of bacillus licheniformis that improves plant health and vigour, enhancing water efficiency and drought tolerance, as a complementary solution for seed treatment.”

Soil sampling and microbiome analysis plays a role in screening for activity against plant pathogens as areas where crops are healthy can indicate where useful strains of bacteria may reside.

“We have already found some useful information which may help fight alternaria solani, sclerotinia sclerotiorum and phytophthora capsica.”

Compounds are then identified that potentially target the pathogen and their effectiveness is then measured. They are then formulated in laboratories and sent into the field for on-farm testing.

“We are looking for biocidal effects, repellency and the potential to switch on the plant’s own defence mechanisms.

“Understanding the drivers of these processes is also crucial to optimising the dose rate and ensuring the best possible consistency.”

In addition to biopesticides, the company has some biostimulants ready for market including in the UK. This is partly because they are able to get through the regulatory system in the EU more easily than biopesticides, which are currently subjected to the same regulatory process in the EU as conventional plant protection chemistry.

Mr Hullebroeck said: “The new actives – both conventional and biological – are planned to complement each other.

“By focusing on innovation, FMC is aiming to become one of the UK’s top providers of synthetic and biological plant protection products.”

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