ADAMA continues long-term focus on new technology for sugarcane

Global crop protection company, ADAMA, has invested significantly in a portfolio of products that are having a positive influence across the cane industry. With a number of developments in the pipeline, there is further excitement ahead.

Jonathan McDonald, ADAMA’s Market Development Manager for Queensland and the Northern Territory, said legislation introduced more than seven years ago to reduce run-off to the Great Barrier Reef has changed the way crop protection inputs are used by canegrowers.

“Growers are using more residual herbicides to reduce the number of passes over paddocks to control weeds. Some growers are getting away with just one application after the residual herbicide,’’ Jonathan said.

“With the move away from burning prior to harvest in most growing regions in the industry, there is also the need for herbicides to move through trash blankets.’’

ADAMA’s Bobcat® i-MAXX herbicide has been increasingly adopted by growers throughout industry.  It combines the strength of two active ingredients for extended residual control and herbicide resistance management. Its performance in both field trials and extensive commercial use demonstrates the strong and broad-spectrum control it provides on a range of grasses and broadleaf weeds in plant and ratoon crops, including barnyard grass, summer grass, liverseed grass, blue top and Ipomea vine species.

A new soluble granule formulation, Bobcat i-MAXX SG launched in 2018, providing growers with a higher loaded product and a more efficient way of applying the active ingredients. A new use pattern was also added to the label which enables growers to spot spray guinea grass using hand held equipment or optical spray technology.

ADAMA’s General Manager of Technical and Development, Andrew Horsfield, said ADAMA is committed to a long-term investment in innovation in the sugar industry.

Andrew said since 2010, a key focus had been to ensure growers have access to effective new products to minimise the effect of any restrictions on the use of existing products such as Diuron.

He said the company was focused on evaluating and launching new herbicides for the sugar industry to provide growers with a range of modes of action to manage weeds efficiently.

Recent work has focused on extending the registration of Palmero® TX into sugarcane. Palmero TX is a co-formulation of isoxaflutole and terbuthylazine, controlling a wide range of grasses and broadleaf weeds. This will be the first registration of a terbuthylazine product for sugarcane in Australia and registration is expected in late 2019 or early 2020.

Andrew said that the use of Palmero TX increases the weed spectrum and activity compared with solo isoxaflutole products like Palmero 750. By formulating as a mixture, it eliminates the need to tank mix with another residual herbicide.

“Palmero TX, will provide a genuine rotational product for Bobcat i-MAXX and Bobcat Combi,’’ Andrew said.

“We are also screening a lot of other active ingredients – some that have never been used in cane, some that are registered for cane overseas and some that are registered for other crops in Australia.

“We understand that due to the range of challenges faced by cane growers, we need to provide a flexible product portfolio.’’

An ADAMA Bobcat I-MAXX demonstration site in Bundaberg.
The ADAMA Sugar team in Bundaberg looking at Bobcat I-MAXX and other herbicides in development in Sugarcane.

ADAMA’s development trials are conducted from northern New South Wales up to Innisfail in North Queensland and on the Atherton Tablelands. This ensures products are tested under a range of growing conditions and soil types.

Jonathan said Bobcat i-MAXX SG had also become more important following recent restrictions on the use of 2,4-D herbicide. He said the longer residual products are reducing the need for 2,4-D and by applying as a pre-emergent application it has a very low risk of drifting on to susceptible crops providing the label application recommendations are observed.

Andrew said ADAMA is also investigating new post-emergent broadleaf weed control solutions that would offer alternatives to 2,4-D and introduce additional modes of action not used in the sugar industry.

Jonathan said soil health was another key focus area, especially since it was a common factor in reduced yields.  ADAMA recently achieved registration for Nimitz®, a new nematicide that provides growers with an important new option for reducing yield losses from nematode damage.

Registered for use in a wide range of crops, Nimitz introduces a new mode of action into Australian farming. The active ingredient fluensulfone, provides rapid activity on nematodes and controls both root-knot nematode and root lesion nematode species that affect sugarcane.

The new mode of action makes it a “true” nematicide, that provides irreversible activity on target nematode species immediately after application. The introduction of Nimitz is important as there are few remaining nematicides available for growers.

It is also selective on beneficial nematodes and organisms, which play a key role in healthy soils and maximising production.

“Nimitz is easy to use and works well even in high rainfall areas. Growers can use it without adversely affecting soil health while protecting yield potential. In some trials there have been yield increases of up to 15 per cent,’’ Jonathan said.

Andrew said further development work was under way with Nimitz to allow its use in ratoons.

ADAMA’s range of products also includes insecticides like Pyrinex® Super for managing wireworm and other pests of crop establishment. Its unique co-formulation targets a range of soil pests that damage germinating plant cane and reduce crop establishment.

Meanwhile, the company has also developed clever tools such as the ReefAware app to help boost the effectiveness of its products for growers, and to use them safely and responsibly. The app helps canegrowers and advisers to maximise herbicide efficacy whilst minimising run-off and its potential impact on the environment. Suitable for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones, ReefAware assesses the suitability and timing of herbicide applications by taking recent, current and short-term forecast weather conditions into account, along with site soil type and moisture, topography and proximity to water courses.

It also considers any neighbouring water bodies, as well as label use requirements, to determine the suitability of immediate herbicide application within the next 24-72 hours.

Jonathan said the app highlighted the company’s strong focus on stewardship and has proven popular with an extensive number of agronomists and growers across Queensland.

For further information on ADAMA’s range of products for the cane industry, advisers, agronomists and growers can contact their local ADAMA representative.