Good Stewardship Is Key to Safety, Protecting Valuable Technologies
As an industry leader, Syngenta recognizes its responsibility to steward its product portfolio for the protection of the environment and the safety of all. For growers, these efforts help ensure the longevity of much-needed technologies.
“Through research, collaboration and education, we go above and beyond to demonstrate our commitment to product stewardship and sustainability,” says Patsy Laird, stewardship manager at Syngenta. “We develop our own stewardship guidelines, support product stewardship education across the country, and work directly with farmers, applicators and resellers to make sure they understand all the best management practices relating to using our products.”
Enhancing Stewardship of Trusted Tools
Dicamba has been a crucial tool for growers since it first received registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) more than 50 years ago. Since dicamba products were registered for post-emergence, over-the-top use on dicamba-resistant cotton and soybeans, the EPA has required applicators to take extra precautions to make sure the herbicide stays on target weeds and away from sensitive crops and other plants.
In 2019, Syngenta introduced the market’s first premixed, residual dicamba-based herbicide: Tavium® Plus VaporGrip® Technology, combining dicamba and S-metolachlor to provide contact activity and residual control. Before launching the product, Syngenta conducted research and collaborated with industry partners to ensure proper stewardship.
“Through research, collaboration and education, we go above and beyond to demonstrate our commitment to product stewardship and sustainability.”
“We used research to specifically write the Tavium label in a manner that provides good stewardship, in addition to the greatest efficacy possible,” says Dane Bowers, technical product lead of herbicides at Syngenta.
For instance, the label requires applications be made within 45 days after planting (through the V4 stage) in soybeans and within 60 days after planting (through the six-leaf stage) in dicamba-tolerant cotton. This earlier application window maximizes delivery of S-metolachlor to the soil surface for optimum residual activity and benefits weed control because of the early timing on smaller weeds. Applying Tavium in this early window allows for good weed control in soybeans and cotton before many nontarget plants emerge.
To make sure applicators maximize the in-season benefit of this technology, Syngenta provides extensively researched material for training customers on tank-mix guidelines, nozzle requirements and appropriate weather conditions to focus the treatment on the crop.
“We wanted to provide as thorough a training as possible so our customers understand Tavium and all of the factors involved in keeping it on the target crop,” Bowers says.
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Bowers believes that the leadership Syngenta shows in dicamba stewardship will help products like Tavium remain trusted tools for years to come.
“Because of the rapid increase in herbicide-resistant weeds, Tavium is a critical tool for growers to control weeds and to help maximize yields,” Bowers says. “It’s extremely important that we steward these products correctly and that anyone applying these products adheres to the label.”
Pioneering Sustainable Energy Production
Stewarding traits, like Enogen® corn enzyme technology, is also important to Syngenta. The company initially developed Enogen to support the ethanol industry, which helps boost the U.S. economy and reduce carbon emissions for a cleaner environment.
Enogen grain contains alpha amylase, an enzyme that efficiently converts starch into energy in the form of sugar when activated. Not only does the enzyme make ethanol production more efficient, it also results in more readily available energy when fed to dairy or feedlot cattle.
Syngenta established a stewardship program to simplify proper management of the crop and ensure the grain reaches the intended channels. Even though Enogen corn is fully approved for food and feed use in the U.S., some industries do not see the benefit from its increased amylase. As good neighbors, Syngenta voluntarily devised an innovative stewardship program to track Enogen corn to its intended destination.
One piece of the program is an online system that includes GPS tools for mapping growers’ Enogen fields, border rows and storage facilities. The system also helps growers track how much Enogen corn they plant and harvest, and assists with pinpointing delivery to the contracted location. Similar to Tavium, training is an important component of the Enogen stewardship program.
“Every acre of Enogen corn is contracted, so we know exactly who is growing the grain, and we spend a lot of time training those growers,” says Chris Cook, head of stewardship at Syngenta Seeds, LLC. “We teach growers why stewardship matters and how to comply with our process. We also provide supplemental support materials throughout the year.”
Cook says the success of Enogen and its stewardship program bodes well for development of future sustainable technologies. “We showed the industry that managing and tracking a new trait is possible on a large scale,” he says. “This opens the door for Syngenta and the industry to look differently at what else can be developed.”
A Foundation for Future Innovation
With global temperatures and populations on the rise, growers need agricultural innovations now more than ever as they grapple with the challenge of feeding more people under more difficult weather conditions. By fostering innovation that protects the environment and those who work in the industry, the Syngenta stewardship team is ready to do its part to help growers meet this challenge.
“We really believe that stewardship is important,” Laird says, “and we’re proud to work on it.”