BASF officially closed the deal to acquire Becker Underwood last November and announced some of the integration logistics during the Seed Expo in December. Becker Underwood president and CEO Peter Innes says they have made steady progress to make that happen since that time. “We’ve been dealing with the most important aspect of the business, which is the people,” Peter said. “We’re now focusing on this new Functional Crop Care business and the components of that business which are seed solutions, biological solutions and solutions beyond crop protection, which deal with abiotic stresses and challenges of that nature.”
Innes has headed up Becker Underwood for over a decade and has now accepted the position of global senior advisor to the Crop Protection Division with BASF. “This has been my life’s work, particularly biologicals,” he said, noting some of the difficulty in letting go but that he believes that Becker Underwood is in good hands with BASF.
According to 10 years of research and field trials, the residual weed control provided by Zidua herbicide lasts up to two weeks longer than other herbicides currently on the market, which helps protect growers’ yield potential.1 Research also shows Zidua herbicide provides up to 10 percent better performance than other residual herbicides in controlling Palmer amaranth and waterhemp.2
“Zidua herbicide provides growers with a new class of chemistry and is an excellent product on its own, but can also be used effectively with Kixor® herbicide technology,” said Greg Armel, Ph.D., Technical Market Manager, BASF. “Soybean growers can now combine the fast, effective burndown and enhanced residual control benefits of Kixor with the residual control of Zidua herbicide for long-lasting weed control.”
Zidua herbicide can be tank-mixed with Kixor herbicide technology products to form a preplant and preemerge combination that combats tough, resistant weeds with up to three different sites of action. Zidua herbicide can also be applied with a range of use rates, allowing soybean growers to select the best rate for their specific needs, based on soil textures in their fields.
Greg did a presentation on Zidua during one of the WIN Sessions at the 2013 Commodity Classic, when they had just heard the soybean residue tolerances had been established. “We’re very excited that Zidua is finally coming along and with its extended residual weed control on Palmer amaranth and waterhemp, it couldn’t have come at a better time,” Greg said. BASF received registration for Zidua in corn last June.
Listen to my interview with Greg here where he talks about Zidua and the importance of different sites of action to control resistant weeds: Interview with Greg Armel
Growers at the recent BASF Crop Protection “Fields of Innovation” symposium heard from Technical Market Specialist Dr. Jennifer Holland about the three pillars of plant health – disease control, growth efficiency and stress tolerance, and how Headline fungicide plays a role in those.
“Headline fungicide really controls the pathogen in a preventative manner,” she explained, adding it keeps the pathogen from germinating and getting through the surface of the plant.
As far as the growth efficiency portion of the equation, Jennifer said Headline helps increase photosynthesis by up to 20 percent. “Even one of the growers spoke to that today: the longer you can keep your crop green, the better your potential is at the end of the season.”
And finally, the better the plant grows, the better its roots are, helping the third pillar: stress tolerance. “Stress tolerance and growth efficiency are actually related to one another by photosynthesis,” Jennifer said. She added that during heat and drought, the openings on the leaf surfaces will shut down, stressing the plant by building up heat in it… much like when car windows are shut on a hot day. Headline helps make sure those openings, stomates, stay open, allowing for a free flow of air and gases in and out of the plant.
Headline fungicide has been one of the most successful crop protection products in the history of agriculture, but combining Headline with other chemistries makes it even better.
At the recent BASF Crop Protection “Fields of Innovation” symposium, BASF Technical Service Representative Dr. Caren Schmidt talked about how adding Caramba™ fungicide to Headline created Headline AMP for maximum protection from foliar diseases and improved Plant Health.
“[We're] trying to make Headline better,” Caren explained. “We wanted to look at bringing post-infection control to Headline [and] some complementary movement withing the leaf to aid in disease control.” But she was quick to add that this is not a cure for fungal growth once it’s actually visible; no fungicide can cure it at that stage.
Caren said they’ve seen about a two bushel per acre increase in corn yields using Headline AMP compared to Headline, adding that when fungicides were used, it produced the top yields among corn using fungicides in the National Corn Growers Association numbers in 2011 and 2012.
Caren also explained why some growers would still use just Headline. “I think having multiple sites of action is really where people want to be, especially if they’re using multiple fungicides within a given season. People have had such great experiences with Headline… it’s been on the market for eight years… if you like it, why would you switch?”
Growers looking for an effective pyrethroid now have a new option with Fastac™ EC insecticide from BASF Crop Protection, which just received Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration and will now be available for use for the 2013 season.
We heard about Fastac during the BASF grower symposium two weeks ago and they said at the time they were expecting registration from EPA any day and sure enough they got it here in time for this year.
“Fastac is a 4th generation pyrethroid insecticide,” says BASF technical service group manager Rick Chamblee. “Growers in all parts of the country are always fighting bugs it seems, so one of the things Fastac brings to market is good control of aphids, does a good job on thrips.”
Listen to Rick’s comments about Fastac here: Rick Chamblee, BASF
The active ingredient in Fastac EC insecticide, alpha-cypermethrin, targets the nerve impulses of insects, which leads to effective control. Fastac EC insecticide controls a broad-spectrum of piercing-sucking and chewing pests, including aphids, beetles and stink bugs.
Combined with its low-dose rate and broad-crop label, which includes soybeans and cotton, Fastac EC insecticide is a welcome addition to the growing portfolio of crop protection products from BASF.
Fastac EC insecticide is a Restricted Use Pesticide.
At last week’s BASF Crop Protection innovation symposium, I had the chance to meet some of the growers who help BASF learn what they need to get the most out of every acre.
Scott Parr, a potato and vegetable farmer from Wisconsin, says he was invited to served on the BASF Grower Advisory Panel in 2011. “When you first went, you thought you’re going to get sold something and they really turned that around,” Scott said. While he was pleased to be able to provide input toward BASF product development, Scott says it was a great learning experience for him as well.
Iowa farmer Jay Drees says he’s one of the smallest farmers on the panel. “But we all seem to have the same concerns,” he said, adding that he is encouraged by the new products coming such as more drought resistant corn and treatments to help the ground hold more water, as well as new sites of action for resistant weeds.
Mike Cox is a corn and soybean farmer from Indiana really enjoyed the grower symposium in Ft. Lauderdale and interacting with fellow producers from around the country and learning more about tools to help him produce more every year. “We like to do a good job and it takes continuous education and effort to make that happen,” said Mike.
One of the facts presented at last week’s BASF grower symposium that surprised me was that only about half the growers in this country are concerned about weed resistance. But, BASF Herbicide Technical Market Manager Luke Bozeman says that has increased tremendously in recent years and will keep increasing. “We’re seeing a greater recognition of the impact of resistant weeds and those growers that haven’t yet experienced it are learning from their neighbors that it can be a problem,” he said.
Because of that, BASF Crop Protection has been very proactive in getting new sites of action (SOA) on the market for growers to fight resistance and now has half of the current 24 registered SOAs. “Quite a range of products that can be utilized to control weeds on the growers’ fields,” he said.
We talk about sites and modes of action when it comes to weed control, but BASF’s Greg Arnell says they are not the same. “We often use those interchangeably and that’s not right,” Greg explained. “Mode of action tells you how a herbicide kills a weed, site of action tells you where the herbicide kills the weed, what target site it’s actually hitting.”
About 275 growers from all over the nation have been learning about new “Fields of Opportunity” from BASF Crop Protection this week while getting a break from winter weather on Ft. Lauderdale beach.
“We’ve got growers as far away as the Pacific northwest,” says BASF Vice President for Crop Protection Paul Rea. “The universal theme from all those growers is they want to increase their yields and do it more efficiently.”
Paul says it is important for BASF to communicate with growers and find out their needs, which is why they have a grower advisory panel. “It’s a program we’ve had now for about four years,” he said. “We actually invite about 25 growers from across the country to tell us what’s on top of their minds, what are they seeing as their production challenges as they move forward.” Paul says it’s very beneficial for BASF to help them shape strategy to serve the needs of farmers.
BASF invests about $2 million a day in research and development for farmers, and Paul says BASF has also heavily invested in people to connect with those farmers. “You can have the best technology in the world, but if you don’t have great people committed to helping the farmer, you’re not going to succeed,” said Paul. That’s why BASF has expanded its field force team to include great folks they call “innovation specialists” to work closely with growers on their farms.
In 1982, two friends named Roger Underwood and Jeff Becker started a little company that bore their names with a single product. Several acquisitions and 30 years later, Becker Underwood is a global leader in the development and commercialization of seed-applied biological products and is now part of the BASF Crop Protection family.
“It’s been quite a ride particularly over the last ten years,” said Peter Innes, who has been Chairman and CEO of Becker Underwood and now will be Global Senior Advisor to the BASF Crop Protection division with the acquisition. “We have a major strength in our technical expertise, in our innovation, we like to bring new and different products to the market.”
Peter says the acquisition will help bring those products to new markets, such as India and China. He talks about that and more in this interview from the ASTA 2012 CSS and Seed Expo last week: Interview with Peter Innes
Effective January 1, 2013, most businesses of Becker Underwood will join the newly established global business unit “Functional Crop Care” under BASF’s Crop Protection division, headed by Dr. Jürgen Huff, Senior Vice President. “With this new global business unit we want to offer farmers a complete and holistic portfolio consisting of seed treatment products, complemented by Becker Underwood’s biologicals portfolio,” said Jürgen. “In addition we’re going to add a part of the business which we call “Innovation Beyond Crop Protection” – projects and products aimed at water management and better nutrient management for plants.”
Jürgen has been with BASF since 1995 and was actually involved in leading a polymer laboratory when he joined the company. “We are very excited with the new Becker Underwood team to bring new great things to the market,” he said.
The acquisition of Becker Underwood by BASF brings together two market leaders in the areas of innovation, crop protection, seed and biological technology, which means a broader range of products for growers to increase yields.
BASF VP US Crop Protection Paul Rea says Becker Underwood technology is complementary to BASF’s existing product portfolio and raises the bar for plant health as a means of increasing yield. “Obviously we have a great foundation with Headline, Headline AMP and Priaxor,” Paul said at last week’s ASTA CSS 2012 and Seed Expo. “The addition of the Becker Underwood portfolio should allow us to look at combining technologies and push that limit even further by using traditional, biological and seed treatment technology to get more from each acre.”
BASF Canada Crop Protection Director Scott Kay says the acquisition of Becker Underwood is important for growers in North America. “It’s a great synergy because our pipelines do not overlap so it’s a brand new portfolio for us,” said Scott. “Whether it’s the inoculants or biologicals, they all have a place and it goes along with helping farmers get the most out of every acre and to manage risk throughout the season.”
I’ve been meaning to bring Leonard Gianessi, the Pesticide Guy, to your attention for a while now. Leonard is the Director of the Crop Protection Research Institute. Here’s what he’s doing with the Pesticide Guy blog.
For the past thirty years, I have been collecting articles and reports on the benefits of using pesticides in crop production. I have integrated information from these articles and reports into summaries of pesticide benefits for fifty crops in the U.S. These summaries cover fungicides, insecticides and herbicides and are available at http://www.croplifefoundation.org. For the past five years, I have been collecting similar reports for crops worldwide and have integrated those into a series of case studies, also available on our website.
Every day I read new reports and articles that have some information on the benefits of using pesticides in crop production. I have decided that instead of filing them away for the next article or report that I will write, I want to bring them to the attention of as wide an audience as would have interest in learning about this subject. So every week I intend to post 2-3 summaries of articles highlighting the key findings regarding pesticide benefits. As this blog grows, we will index the individual entries by crop and country. After a year or so, there will be enough entries for anyone to have a comprehensive view of the subject.
So, got questions about pesticides? Follow Leonard. ‘Nuff said.
CLF chairman of the board Jay Vroom says the report outlines the benefits of using pesticides for sustainable crop production.
“Precision seed protection, as part of an integrated pest management system and when combined responsibly with other crop protection products, makes it possible for U.S. farmers to grow more resilient crops that can withstand harsh climate conditions and provide consumers more healthy and nutritious food choices,” said Vroom. “CLF looks forward to the publication of this report in the spring and sharing important findings on the benefits of precision seed protection for modern agriculture.”
Dealing with EPA’s NPDES and state pesticide general permits. Sounds daunting doesn’t it? Well it is for agricultural aviators. It is government regulation that duplicates already existing regulation and is something that the NAAA has been working on in Washington, DC all year and it looks like will have to continue to do so.
To provide NAAA members with an overview and update, Dr. John Thorne, Bergeson & Campbell, PC, spoke on the subject this morning at the NAAA convention. His job was to explain the regulations and help attendees protect themselves to the fullest extent possible. He offered guidance on what ag aviators need to do to stay in compliance and avoid subjecting themselves to enforcement actions. If you’d like to know more about this issue then give his remarks a listen.
Doug Stark, President and CEO of Farm Credit Services of America, spoke with me about how producers can take advantage of the servies they have to offer.
“There is a lot going on in agriculture right now. Certainly the drought and the weather has occupied most producers minds throughout this year. But fortunately we have crop insurance, which was a great safety net. That leads to the farm bill and the debt deficit and getting something done there. It’s been an interesting year and challenging year in a lot of regards, but at the same time producers are doing well.”
“There are some really good opportunities out there in agriculture and we are seeing that the Farm Credit system is really doing a good job stepping up and financing producers when they need credit to expand and grow and buy land in some cases at record prices. And in other cases we just need to support them because they were impacted by the drought and by high feed costs.”
BASF purchased Becker Underwood from Norwest Equity Partners for $1.02 billion (€785 million). With the acquisition, BASF is now a leading global provider of technologies for biological seed treatment as well as seed treatment colorants and polymers. BASF has also expanded its product portfolio in the areas of biological crop protection, turf and horticulture, animal nutrition and landscape colorants and coatings.
“The acquisition fits very well with our long-term growth strategy. It will provide our customers with an even broader range of innovative solutions for agriculture. And it also provides our new colleagues with access to BASF’s global R&D platform as well as new markets and customers,” said Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, member of BASF’s Board of Executive Directors responsible for the Agricultural Solutions segment and Research Executive Director.
Most businesses of Becker Underwood will join the newly established global business unit “Functional Crop Care” as part of BASF’s Crop Protection division where BASF will merge its existing research, development and marketing activities in the areas of seed treatment, biological crop protection, plant health, as well as water and resource management with those of Becker Underwood. Becker Underwood’s animal nutrition business will be integrated into BASF’s Nutrition & Health division.
The newly formed global Functional Crop Care unit will become effective January 1, 2013. It will be headed by Dr. Juergen Huff, Senior Vice President. Dr. Peter Innes, currently CEO of Becker Underwood, has accepted the position of Global Senior Advisor to the Crop Protection division. He will support the integration of Becker Underwood into BASF and the implementation of the Functional Crop Care unit.
During the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Trade Talk, BASF was pleased to announce new research showcasing the Plant Health benefits of fungicides containing F500® fungicide, like Headline, and how they can help growers increase yield and profit potential. The research, which was conducted by BASF in the field and in greenhouse settings, shows that BASF fungicides increase net photosynthesis in corn and soybean plants, which increases energy production, leading to increased yield potential.
“Over the last two years we’ve really been digging into the growth efficiency portion of the plant health message,” said Jennifer Holland, Ph.D., Technical Market Specialist, BASF. “Specifically we found that plant health fungicides can increase the photosynthesis of the plant and that’s important to growers because photosynthesis drives energy in the plant and that ultimately allows the plant to put more energy towards grain fill at the end of the season, increasing profitability.”
This year, BASF conducted a greenhouse study on the Plant Health benefits of fungicides in varying water conditions. In the study, conducted under water-stressed conditions, plants treated with a fungicide containing F500 were nearly 30 percent more efficient at net photosynthesis than the untreated plants. The fungicide-treated plants were able to handle stress better than untreated plants, which can lead to higher yield potential.
Jennifer says they also found that Headline also helps increase roots, which is tied to nutrient uptake, water uptake and standability.
It’s not just pigweed, it’s Palmer amaranth pigweed, and it was all over the Bayer CropScience Respect the Rotation plot tour in Collinsville, Illinois – towering over corn and soybeans and most other weeds.
Waterhemp is also a member of the pigweed family that might be more familiar to growers in the Midwest and both are developing resistance to glyphosate. Southern Illinois University weed specialist Bryan Young says resistant waterhemp in the region has been doubling every year for the past three years. “At one point we had ten percent of retailers surveyed said it was a problem in their territory, the next year it was 20%,” he said. “This past fall it was 40% and this fall I’m expecting that will be even higher.”
The Palmer pigweed is more aggressive than waterhemp and has already taken over fields in the south, starting just from one little weed. The Respect the Rotation message for farmers in the Midwest is to keep that from happening by rotating modes of action for herbicides, as well as crops themselves.
Listen to my interview with Bryan from the Bayer field day and watch the video below where he explains how to identify Palmer amaranth. Bryan Young interview
At least 250 farmers, crop consultants, and retailers turned out Wednesday in Collinsville, Illinois for a plot tour of mostly lots of really tall and nasty weeds that don’t die easily.
The Bayer CropScience “Respect the Rotation” field day offered a glimpse of what could happen in the Midwest if resistant weeds like pigweed palmer ameranth gain a foothold. District manager Eric Peters says Respect the Rotation is Bayer’s initiative to raise awareness about weed resistance issues. “We look at ourselves as providing solutions to growers and helping our growers feed the world,” he said. “If the weeds are overtaking the fields and you get reduced yields, or in some cases no yields, that’s not a good situation.”
A couple of the stops on the tour featured experts from Arkansas, where a slow response to dealing with resistance has meant that many farmers can no longer use glyphosate at all.
The new Vice President of Marketing for Bayer CropScience US was on hand to welcome guests at the event. Dave Hollinrake just joined the company three months ago and has enjoyed getting out to these field days and talk with farmers about ways they can protect their crops and preserve the crop protection tools they have at their disposal for the future. “The message is about preservation and long term use of that technology,” he said. “We want to encourage multiple modes of action, a transition of crops year to year, and using different traits.”
Bayer’s Liberty Link technology with Liberty herbicide has been very successful in dealing with glyphosate resistant weeds, and Hollinrake says they are happy about that, but they believe the way to keep that effectiveness is through the rotation concept.
The city of Chicago is the stage for the 2012 BASF Agricultural Solutions Media Summit again. The summit was held here in 2010 at the amazing Trump Towers.
The theme of the event is the concept that innovation and sustainability are very closely linked, according to Paul Rea, BASF Vice President, U.S. Crop Protection. “You’ll hear from a range speakers and panelists from across the industry talking about the role that innovation plays in solving sustainability issues in agriculture,” Paul told me in a brief preview interview this morning.
A wide range of journalists are represented at the event, from mainstream media to targeted specialty crop publications. “We’ve brought together a lot of our different business units here in North America, including our plant science group, Canadian business, U.S. ag business, specialty business,” Paul said. “So, it’s really a good collection of the entire breadth of the ag solutions BASF has to offer the North American market.”
Paul is pictured here (left) with Markus Heldt, President, BASF Crop Protection and the Chicago skyline in the background during last night’s opening reception for the media event.