SAN ANTONIO – Following EPA registration of its newest fungicides, Veltyma fungicide in corn and Revytek fungicide in soybean, BASF teamed up with more than 1,200 growers across the country as part of their RevX Fields program, which provided growers with local, on-farm fungicide data.
During the annual BASF “Science Behind” event held in conjunction with Commodity Classic, Paula Halabicki, BASF technical marketing manager, discussed the amount of opportunity available across the country to implement new innovations with fungicides.
“There are 160 million acres of corn and soybean grown in the U.S., and when we think about how many acres are actually treated with a fungicide, it’s actually a very small percentage,” she said. “We have about 120 million acres of opportunity.”
Soybean as a crop experiences significant yield loss, about 420 million bushels every year, due to disease. As for corn, the crop loses 12 percent of its production – 1.5 billion bushels – every year because of disease.
“To me, that means there are many opportunities to use fungicides to build our yield potentials,” Halabicki said.
Whiles diseases obviously cause yield loss, these crops are also exposed to many environmental stresses that can have a significant impact on yield, as well. According to Halabicki, depending on conditions, 60-75 percent of the flowers on a soybean plant are aborted due to environmental stresses, and for corn, there’s 1 percent of yield loss for every 12 hours of moisture stress, unless that stress takes place during pollinations, where there’s 1 percent of yield loss for every 4 hours of moisture stress.
“There’s a big opportunity to improve the growth of our soybean and corn yield by using fungicide products,” she said. “For corn/soybean farmers, 90 percent have used a fungicide in the past, but only about 40 percent are using consistently on their acres. Though we know the amount of yield loss that comes from disease and environmental stress, only 40 percent of farmers recognize that as well and are consistent with their applications, while there’s 60 percent who aren’t. Half of those are interested in using fungicides in the future.”
What are they looking for?
BASF surveyed farmers on what they are looking for when a company comes out with a new active ingredient. Based on survey results, farmers want application flexibility, they expressed what a challenge it is to find time to apply those fungicides, they wanted consistent performance, and they want to be able to use these products on their own, all while experiencing the same value that companies say the product will bring to their operations.
BASF’s brand new active ingredient, Revysol, is the newest member of the triazole chemistry group. The chemistry group has been around since 1979, but it has been 18 years since a new product was brought to the class.
“BASF recognized the need to bring something new to the group,” Halabicki said. “Innovation is going to help in that class, but we have to bring this to farmers in a different way. We have to be able to provide them an experience if we want to increase the opportunity for them to adopt fungicides.”
Revytek and Veltyma are two BASF products that contain Revysol as an active ingredient. The products aim to maximize crop protection in heavy disease and environmental stress situations.
“We know these products are the best in the marketplace in terms of providing the consistency that growers are looking for because they’ve performed in areas of both high- and low-disease pressure, as well as cases of significant environmental stress,” she said.
When spraying a fungicide, Halabicki says farmers are basically applying millions of molecules of a product to the plant. The plant has to then absorb those products. Revysol’s flexibility compared to other products is one of its more separating qualities.
“There’s a binding pocket – a particular shape for every disease you’re trying to control – and Revysol, the molecule itself, is much more flexible than other molecules in its class. It can move into binding pockets and flex into the shape of that binding pocket, kind of like a key fitting into a lock. The better the fit, the stronger your efficacy,” Halabicki explained.
Revytek and Veltyma were both used last year to shatter yield records.
Virginia farmer David Hula, who held the previous record of 542 bushels per acre for corn, yielded 616 bushels per acre using Veltyma. Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy, broke the world soybean yield record by incorporating both Priaxor and Revytek fungicides on his fields to achieve a yield of 190 bushels per acre.
“We’ve been using BASF fungicides on our fields for years and have seen consistent positive results over time,” Hula said. “This year, we tested the new fungicide technology BASF offers, and had healthier fields and outstanding results in our corn crop this season. A lot of the time when growers are thinking about what inputs they can forego, fungicides are at the top of that list. But, in our experience, fungicides are not optional and should be carefully and proactively incorporated into the growing season, even when diseases aren’t showing in your field. The increased plant health we get from BASF fungicides has certainly played a role in, not only in our high-yielding environments, but in our traditional production, as well.”
Innovations in chemistry is one thing, but it’s another challenge to be able to gain the trust from farmers that a specific product will be worth their while. According to Josh Miller, BASF technical marketing manager, BASF has made it their priority to gain the trust of farmers and make innovations when it comes to transparency and believability.
“How do we become the company that’s not just saying we have the best next thing? Well, we’re trying. We can put out our messaging, our advertising and our data, but we know that information is not always trusted,” he said. “Every farmer has a unique experience on their own farm. We want our customers from day one to have the trust and believability that this product will do what we say it does.”
BASF sent out 1,200 on-farm trials, and to be as transparent as possible, they sent out for a third-party analysis. All the results are available on revxfields.com.
“You can see where the trials were placed across the county and you can see how these products did in your backyard,” Miller said. “Not every place is going to yield the same and you’re able to zoom in to all the different areas. If you’re from Arkansas, you don’t care what the yields were in Minnesota because everything is different. This website is driving towards local, relevant and transparent data.”