Crop Protection Pipeline Will Deliver Many Innovations

Syngenta researchers are developing targeted, blockbuster technologies for the crop protection pipeline.

Q. What are some of the most exciting discoveries and production trends in the industry today?

David Laird, head of product biology, Syngenta, North America
David Laird
A. David Laird, technical transfer lead, Syngenta, U.S.: One of the most important new chemistry developments over the past 10 years or so has been the commercialization of fungicides from the powerful SDHI [succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor] class of chemistry. All the major R&D companies have been active in this class, but none more so than Syngenta, with five molecules registered or close to registration. For example, Vibrance® seed treatment fungicide offers outstanding protection against major seed and seedling rots, such as Rhizoctonia root rot, and provides for exceptional root health. Solatenol® fungicide has revolutionized the control of Asian soybean rust in Brazil and has offered excellent disease control in many crops in the U.S.

We’ve also seen important production trends in the digital agriculture and stewardship areas. In digital ag, we’re seeing improved crop evaluation, GPS applications for farm and field management, and enhanced farm-decision support. At Syngenta, we see this happening through the new Digital Agriculture Solutions group, which focuses on whole-farm management and sustainability. Empowered by its ability to handle big data, digital ag will continue to grow in importance. Programs like AgriEdge Excelsior® demonstrate that the analysis of data and the application of strategies based on data promise many efficiencies and potential game-changing practices for growers.

Stewardship initiatives, like the Syngenta Good Growth Plan, have become and will remain important. Growers are paying more attention to emissions, soil conservation, water use and labor. Overall, we’re using more practices that minimize long-term effects on the environment and workers.

Q. How has the Syngenta commitment to innovation shaped its current crop protection portfolio?

A. Syngenta has always been a leader in innovation. Our chemistry portfolio is outstanding, and we’re focused on continually delivering the next generation of pesticides. While we strive to develop the next new chemistry or enhancement, we also work to understand the needs of growers and society. For the past 20 years, we have enhanced and developed our chemistry to be more efficient. Refining our products by transitioning to Dual Magnum® herbicide and Orondis® Ridomil Gold® fungicide has reduced significant pounds of pesticide in the environment. We’ve met challenges from pest resistance—whether it’s in weeds, pathogens or insects—with a deep understanding of the underlying mechanisms. This approach has resulted in the development of robust pesticide premixtures, which have become important tools in pest-resistance management.

Syngenta is also developing new molecules using the concept of innovation by design, which means we’re going after specifically needed attributes. Bicyclopyrone is a recent example of a Syngenta innovation of this kind. Our world-class formulation capability enables us to combine this low-use-rate chemistry in premixture products that deliver diversity in weed control and potency against hard-to-control weeds, like giant ragweed and some herbicide-resistant weed species.

Q. What excites you most about the Syngenta Crop Protection pipeline over the next two to five years?

A. The most exciting thing for me is the breadth of grower solutions that Syngenta will deliver. There will truly be something for everyone. Upon registration, Adepidyn® fungicide will be the broadest-spectrum SDHI on the market, with key strengths on difficult-to-control pathogens. This molecule has the potential to provide groundbreaking control of leafspot diseases in peanuts and Fusarium head blight in cereals, just to name two of the many crops that it will benefit.

“We’re looking for new chemistries that will offer new modes of action, exhibit highly targeted activity, be benign to the environment and fit in precision applications.”

David Laird
The next blockbuster insecticide is also in our pipeline and looks very exciting. This molecule will complement current insect-management programs with a brand new mode of action and be available across a broad segment of crops. From the promise of superior wireworm control by seed treatment to longer residual control using foliar applications, this new insecticide is something growers can look forward to.

Using our concept of innovation by design, we have a new foundational herbicide in development as well. This existing mode of action has enhancements in weed-control spectrum with a lower use rate and potential resistance-breaking activity.

Finally within the five-year horizon, we have an exciting Seedcare™ and soil-applied nematicide. This nematicide is superior in control and spectrum to currently available options; and based on the high level of control, its benefits to growers will stand out.

Q. What can the industry look forward to from the Syngenta Crop Protection pipeline longer term?

A. Syngenta has a robust pipeline, and we will commercialize many new products over the next five to six years. There will be an additional wave of chemistry innovation beginning in the middle of the next decade and continuing into the 2030s. Specifically, we’re looking for new chemistries that will offer new modes of action, exhibit highly targeted activity, be benign to the environment and fit in precision applications.

@SyngentaUS researchers developing technologies for the crop protection pipeline.

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In addition, Syngenta is investing significantly in a robust biologicals pipeline. These will be next-generation biologicals and take many forms, but will promise efficacy equal to chemistry standards. The company will also actively enter into significant market segments with RNA-based technology during the next 20 years. This highly specific technology has a great fit for certain problematic pests, such as corn rootworm among others. Enhancing a plant’s ability to withstand abiotic stresses, such as heat and drought, is also a future frontier. Syngenta already has an active early-stage research program in this area with promising leads.

Focused on delivery, Syngenta will continue to be a leader in crop protection for years to come. A more positive public perception and acceptance of agricultural technology will be critical to enable the development of new products. We must all do our part to advocate for this technology, which will help meet the needs of future growers and feed the planet.