Innovation in the development and application of broad spectrum fungicides has brought a new tool to farmers seeking improved disease protection and higher crop yields.
Eric Tedford, Syngenta fungicide technical lead, said that 15 years ago, their Tilt fungicide — which uses propiconazole, a triazole fungicide, as its active ingredient — was only applied on the highest-valued crops like seed corn.
Fungicide use advanced as the door for development and regulatory approval opened to meet the threat of a new crop disease in the U.S., Asian soybean rust, Tedford explained.
Today, broad spectrum fungicides using multiple active ingredients can reduce yield loss from corn and soybean diseases including anthracnose, rusts and blights.
In addition to controlling disease, Strobilurin fungicides like azoxystrobin and succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicides like Solatenol have the added benefit of physiological effects, allowing crops to stay green longer and utilize water more efficiently, Tedford said.
Syngenta’s Trivapro fungicide utilizes three active ingredients: propiconazole, azoxystrobin and Solatenol.
This combination is not only effective against the “most yield-limiting” corn and soybean diseases, but using three active ingredients at once reduces the chances for resistance, Tedford said.
Like using multiple herbicide modes of action, having three different methods to kill fungi lowers the odds that a simultaneous mutation conferring resistance will occur.
In 2016, Trivapro-treated corn acres averaged 27 bushels more per acre than untreated fields across 48 non-replicated trials.
In soybeans, Syngenta’s nine large plot trials showed an 8 bushel per acre advantage from Trivapro vs. untreated.
In many cases, yield differences between treated and untreated acres are higher where more disease is present, Tedford said.
He said reduced corn lodging from less disease pressure could also improve harvest efficiency.
Given the benefits, it is not surprising Syngenta is intent on protecting its products.
On March 24, a U.S. District Court ruled Willowood USA, which sells generic crop protection products, had infringed on two of Syngenta’s patents for azoxystrobin by importing 5 kilograms of azoxystrobin from a Chinese company in 2013.
The order stated issues regarding Syngenta’s patented manufacturing process for creating azoxystrobin, and damages relating to the infringement remain to be determined by trial.
Joseph Middione, Willowood USA Chief Operating Officer, said azoxystrobin remains available in generic forms, and with low commodity prices interest in generic alternatives is “very high.”
“The District Court simply found that Willowood infringed two now-expired patents in 2013 by importing into the United States a mere 5 kilograms of azoxystrobin technical for testing and formulation purposes,” Middione said. “Willowood made no commercial sales of azoxystrobin until several months after the expiration of these Syngenta patents in February 2014.”
In a press release regarding the District Court findings, Vern Hawkins, Syngenta regional director in North America, said, “This is an important victory for Syngenta and ultimately for farmers because it preserves intellectual property rights that create incentive for continued innovation from companies like ours. We intend to continue protecting our significant investments in developing and commercializing crop protection products such as azoxystrobin.”
Meanwhile, farmers across the U.S. are seeing firsthand the effects of these new technologies through on-farm trials.
Tedford said Syngenta encouraged farmers to try their fungicide technologies on a portion of their farms, such as a 50-acre field. Farmers are seeing that acres treated with Trivapro are staying green longer, he said.
“A lot of growers recognize the value they are getting because they are seeing the difference,” Tedford said. “The yields were huge.”
New fungicide technologies are on the way from Syngenta, Tedford said.
Syngenta’s Miravis fungicide product line contains Adepidyn fungicide, a new active ingredient with carboxamide chemistry, and is currently pending EPA approval.
According to a news release from Syngenta, the Miravis fungicide family of products is expected to benefit growers by providing “the most activity amongst all chemical classes against leaf spots and powdery mildew.”