Innovation is an over-used word in agriculture but it’s unavoidable when describing what we are delivering to the UK. That was the message from Adrian Gough, UK and Ireland country leader for Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDuPont and the headline sponsor of this year’s technical event.
He says: “With the new company we have inherited all the knowledge and expertise from our heritage brands and that’s something that has to shine through to our customers.
“Agriculture is changing in so many ways. We have to be smart. That’s not just about getting products to market but about engaging users and working with them to find the best seed and crop protection programmes for them.”
Corteva’s recently-launched products and future pipeline is a significant talking point and one that will be front and centre at CropTec.
Since 2016 the company’s heritage brands have launched three new herbicides and a potato fungicide.
The launch of two new insecticides in cereals, protected crops, ornamentals, fruit and field vegetables is looming on the horizon, while first sales of a much-anticipated cereals fungicide are on track for 2020.
Pioneer’s oilseed rape seed PT279CL was launched this year and is the only Clearfield variety on the AHDB Recommend List.
A new range of faster-acting silage inoculants is also scheduled for launch in 2019.
“A lot has happened and there is a lot to come,” says Mr Gough.
“We have also retained many of the products our long-standing customers value and need.
“We have achieved all this in an extremely challenging regulatory climate.
“We believe we now have the most balanced portfolio of products in the industry combined with a rich history of agronomic expertise and an unparalleled innovation engine.”
In 2016 the introduction of Arylex Active was the first game-changer.
It attracted a huge amount of attention from cereal growers and, now, oilseed rape growers too.
It debuted in Pixxaro in 2016 before being introduced in Zypar 12 months later.
“Arylex has allowed us to develop selective herbicides which challenge the limitations of traditional herbicides in the way they can be applied in cold or variable conditions.
“UK growers who have tried the product have seen a real difference compared to their previous programmes.”
Oilseed rape growers will also benefit from the chemistry which has ripped up the rulebook on how to control autumn weeds.
Belkar – approved this summer but with a full launch scheduled for 2019 – allows growers to see a crop emerge before making decisions on weed control.
“Previously growers had to invest up front in residual chemistry before they see rape coming out the ground,” explains Mr Gough.
“With cabbage stem flea beetle and unpredictable weather, Belkar is a way for growers to have more confidence that they are only investing in herbicides when they see a crop.”
Corteva’s new potato fungicide, Zorvec Enicade, is another product which has challenged the status quo.
Applications every 10 days, as opposed to the industry standard seven, is one of the product’s stand-out features.
Mr Gough adds: “2018 has been extremely challenging for potato growers but not because of blight in most cases – dry, hot weather has made it difficult.
“There will be more testing conditions ahead where Zorvec will play a vital role in protecting the UK crop.”
Market-leading disease control is the main feature of Corteva’s pipeline cereals fungicide Inatreq Active too.
The product has received EU annex 1 approval and is on track to be launched in 2020.
“Growers are desperate for a fungicide with a new target site to add to the toolbox in the fight against resistance, and that’s what Inatreq will do,” Mr Gough says.
“Curative and protectant, it’s a fungicide that does so much of what the market demands so we’re really excited about its prospects for the UK.”
Isoclast Active – a new molecule for aphid control on protected crops, field vegetables and cereals – is on the horizon.
Mr Gough says: “It has already received regulatory approvals in 75 countries and has been used on millions of hectares worldwide.”
David Fuller, farm manager at McGregor Farms at Coldstream in the Scottish Borders, is one of just five UK growers to have tried Corteva’s pipeline cereals fungicide Inatreq.
He is responsible for the agronomy across the whole business and has been taking part in one-hectare field trials of the pipeline cereal fungicide for the past two years.
Farming close to 3,200ha of owned and contracted land across 14 farms, he was keen to see how the new chemistry performs against his farm standard.
He describes the climate in the Borders as ‘variable’ which often leads to short application windows for his team to cover the acreage with, in most years, four sprays to counter disease.
“Our number one threat is septoria,” he says, “and given the time we have available to get across the land reliability is the key for us.”
Variable is an apt description of the conditions he has encountered during his two-year Inatreq experience.
In 2017 an extremely dry period preceded the T2 application with just 40mm of rain falling in April and May – half the farm’s average rainfall for that period.
The KWS Siskin was drilled in a wet autumn and followed by a mild winter, ramping up septoria pressure before prolonged sunshine suppressed the threat.
“Our observation was that the Inatreq plot stayed greener for longer and appeared more golden at harvest compared to the farm standard,” says Mr Fuller.
There was hardly anything separating the two when the combine went through, with the trial yielding 12.07 tonnes/ha.
“We learned that the product worked, but it was a low-pressure year so we were keen to try it again.”
Drought stress was more of a concern than wet weather when Mr Fuller tried Inatreq this year in a hectare of Grafton.
A cold, wet winter and spring pushed spray programmes back and the Inatreq application took place in the last week of May.
“With a wet March and April we thought we would have a difficult season but with no rain for over three weeks disease pressure really dropped off again,” Mr Fuller says.
The late application season turned into a remarkable harvest which started 20 days earlier than normal.
“That meant a very short period for crops to fill with grain leading to average yields,” he adds.
But this year the Inatreq plot yielded considerably more than the farm standard at 12.6t/ha against the 11.2t/ha recorded on a parallel tramline.
Mr Fuller says he is keen to see Inatreq in a high disease pressure year to see what it is capable of.
“We’ve seen the slow decline of triazoles and strobilurins come and go – now we’re hearing about pressure on SDHIs.
“Inatreq will have to prove itself like any of the investments we make in crop protection but we’re excited about the prospect of having a new fungicide to use.”
Corteva is headline sponsor at CropTec Show 2018.
“CropTec will be the first opportunity many farmers and advisers have to see the Corteva brand, but our heritage companies have been leaders in crop protection and seed for well over a century,” says Adrian Gough.
Corteva is the result of a merger which harnesses the heritage of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Crop Protection and DuPont Pioneer.
The $130 billion (£98bn) global seed and crop protection business is scheduled formally to spin off into its new identity in June 2019, but Corteva has chosen this year’s CropTec Show to explain to farmers who it is and what it stands for.