By their nature, Environmental Respect Award winners have pledged themselves to building a better world in the future, for both the communities they do business in and the grower-customers they serve. Catering to this ideal, one of the stops on the 2015 Environmental Respect Awards tour was to visit the Stine-Haskell Research Center, a major source of future product discovery for program sponsor DuPont Crop Protection.
“In many ways, the future of our company and the agricultural industry is on display here at Stine-Haskell,” said Dr. Ray Forney, one of the champions of the Environmental Respect Awards program at DuPont Crop Protection, ushering attendees into the facility.
Although researchers at Stine-Haskell conduct discovery in all areas of the crop protection products marketplace, much of their recent work has centered upon the area of herbicides and herbicide-resistant weeds. In fact, the first confirmed case of a glyphosate-resistant weed, marestail, was discovered back in 2000 not too far from the facility’s home of Newark, DE. Since that time, dozens of weed varieties with resistance to popular herbicides have been found across the U.S. and around the world. In fact, it is estimated that the world’s growers spend in excess of $20 billion per year in their efforts to control these yield-robbing field pests.
But as the moderators for the Environmental Respect Awards tour pointed out to attendees, finding new active ingredients to combat these weeds is an ongoing challenge. “Although we store approximately two million compounds in our lab regularly, it usually takes testing more than 250,000 compounds over an eight to 10 year period before we might discover one compound that could be an effective control for some of these problem weeds,” said Stine-Haskell researcher Tom Woods.
In the meantime, many crop protection product suppliers are turning to blends of many different herbicides featuring multiple modes of action to help combat resistant weeds. In fact, according to DuPont’s Larry Gaulney, the company offers the PrecisionPac system to ag retailers in the U.S. and Canada to aid in this cause. This unit can blend up to six different active ingredients and dispense 47 different product offerings.
“This way, an ag retailer that has a grower dealing with a serious resistant weed problem can be given a custom blended solution, one that takes into account such variables as soil type, weed type and the crops being grown in those fields,” said Gaulney.