Monsanto is delaying the launch of its new nematode management product for 2018. Concern that NemaStrike, a seed treatment, can cause skin irritation among users is the reason. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency approved NemaStrike Technology to control pests like soybean cyst nematode in soybeans and nematodes in corn and cotton.
Company officials say a limited number of cases of skin irritation surfaced as Monsanto prepared the technology for commercial launch in 2018.
“We are examining these cases, and in those we’ve evaluated so far, the proper use of required personal protection equipment appears to be an important factor,” says Brian Naber, U.S. commercial operations lead for Monsanto. “As a company, safety and stewardship are our priority. Out of caution, we are pausing the 2018 commercialization of NemaStrike while we evaluate the circumstances in these cases.
“We anticipate we will continue the Ground Breakers [testing] program this spring,” Naber adds. “We will provide additional information to you, including which alternative Acceleron Seed Applied Solutions products will be available commercially for 2018. You’ll hear more from us in coming weeks.”
Monsanto is offering NemaStrike Technology by Acceleron Seed Applied Solutions as a way to control the invisible and invasive nematode problem. Nematodes cause greater than 10% yield loss in corn, soybeans and cotton in the U.S. each year. As a broad-spectrum nematicide, NemaStrike is designed to strike in the root zone where nematodes attack while providing consistent yield protection.
To learn more about this new product, Wallaces Farmer interviewed Dave Wilson, Monsanto seed treatment product development manager. He says this technology stands apart as a way to protect yield. “NemaStrike Technology is exciting because the tech provides broad-spectrum control of plant parasitic nematodes in corn, soybeans and cotton,” he says.
Nematodes an increasing problem
“Today, many growers underestimate the severe impact nematodes have on yield and overall crop health, and it’s important to us to educate them about the issue,” Wilson says. “NemaStrike addresses this important unmet need.”
Nematodes impact all crops, but growers often do not attribute yield loss to this plant parasite. A recent survey found only 8% of corn and 25% of soybean growers believe nematodes impacted their 2016 yields. Growers often believe relying on genetics or crop rotation will control nematodes and don’t actively pursue other methods and tools to mitigate nematode damage.
Growers test the tech
“Genetic resistance isn’t the silver bullet for the nematode problem,” says Wilson. “Nematode damage is often misattributed to other issues like drought stress, fertility deficiency and disease pressure. That’s one of the reasons why we developed our Ground Breakers program to give growers a hands-on experience with tools like NemaStrike. Growers conducting these trials can test its performance in nematode control and yield protection while gaining a better understanding of the problem.”
In 43 states across the U.S., more than 438 Ground Breakers precommercial field trials have been conducted for corn, soybeans and cotton. Illinois farmer Matt Muirheid is a Ground Breakers participant who planted soybean seed with NemaStrike Technology and noticed results in the field.
After inspecting soybean roots following an early August root dig, he said, “You can see more lateral roots, more nodules and a bigger root system on the NemaStrike beans vs. soybeans without the technology. The roots are very impressive.”
Better, healthier roots
With a novel mode of action and low water solubility, NemaStrike Technology defends crops from the start and stays in the root zone as plants grow for up to 75 days, says Wilson. The technology also has shown consistent yield protection in hundreds of field trials, over three years of testing, in all soil types and levels of pressure. Trial results showed an average yield protection advantage in corn (7 bushels per acre), soybeans (3 bushels per acre) and cotton (80 pounds lint per acre) vs. the competitive standard.
In May, the U.S. EPA issued registration for the product containing NemaStrike. Since then, the technology has gained approval for application to seed in 45 states. For more information about nematodes or NemaStrike, visit nemastriketechnology.com.