28 November 1997

New herbicide can be key to one-pass autumn operations

COMBINING pre-emergence weed control with an anti-BYDV seed treatment could create a one pass approach to autumn operations and seal the success of a new herbicide.

JV 485 is the new pre-emergence herbicide resulting from a joint venture between Monsanto and Bayer (Arable Nov 21). It will be sold by Twinagro, a new purpose-made company established to ease marketing across Europe.

Control of cleavers and blackgrass, including resistant strains, is said to be unaffected by soil conditions.

There is no need for advance soil preparation, and efficacy is unaffected by wet or dry weather, the company says.

But the possible reluctance of farmers to gear up for pre-emergence spraying has prompted Twinagro to consider a novel approach to application.

Applying the herbicide through a drill-mounted sprayer could avoid clashing workloads, says Twinagro director Frank Reuscher. Indeed, if the seed in the drill is treated with Bayers imidacloprid insecticide no further autumn spraying would be needed.

Imidacloprid is currently only available as the sugar beet seed treatment Gaucho in the UK. But it already provides season-long control of BYDV-carrying aphids in 80% of the French winter barley crop, Mr Reuscher notes. Such an approach could appeal to growers in southern England. "We would effectively have a one pass autumn strategy," comments Peter Stacey of Bayer.

However, JV 485 also appeals as a stand-alone, season long solution to blackgrass, he stresses. "As a conventional pre-emergence spray it is going to be worth making the extra effort in fields with a known blackgrass problem." JV485 should be available by the year 2000.