Scientists working to bring new modes of action to herbicide arsenal

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You wouldn’t know it given the proliferation of brands, but the golden years of herbicide development date back nearly half a century, with only one new mode of action introduced in the first decade of this century.

But scientists such as Eric Johnson, a weed biologist with Agriculture Canada, are continuing the hunt for more. Johnson and his team are focusing on Group 14 herbicides, which are known as PPO inhibitors and work by disrupting cell membrane development. Heat and Authority are Group 14 herbicides.

Johnson is also researching Group 15 herbicides, many of which are not commonly used in Western Canada. Frontier is an example of Group 15 that may be used on the Prairies.

Researchers at the Scott research station in Saskatchewan have been working with Authority since 2000.

“It took us about 10 years to get it registered, but I think this is one of our greatest success stories for the minor-use program on the Prairies,” said Johnson, noting the product is now registered on chickpeas, flax, field peas and sunflowers.

“It’s one of the best kochia killers that I’ve worked with.”

Authority can also control lamb’s quarters and wild buckwheat, but is not very effective against wild mustard.

ARES is a new herbicide that comes in a liquid formulation.

“It’s similar to Odyssey because it has two herbicides in it, but the second one is not Pursuit. It’s called inazapyr,” said Johnson.

The product is registered for Clearfield canola, Clearfield lentil and Clearfield mustard. ARES works on wild oats, wild buckwheat, cleavers, lamb’s quarters and Canada thistle.

BASF will soon be releasing a chemfallow, post-harvest product called Distinct, which is a tank mix partnered with glyphosate. The product contains diflufenzopyr and dicamba. Diflufenzopyr doesn’t have a lot of herbicidal activity but blocks the movement of the dicamba herbicide in the plant, allowing it to become much more concentrated on the weed’s growing points, so it works faster and more effectively. Distinct works well on kochia.

Aminocyclopyrachlor is a Group 4 Dupont product that works well on broadleaf weeds including leafy spurge, scentless chamomile, dandelions and common tansy in range and pasture lands.

“It’s really quite effective and controls a number of invasive species,” said Johnson. “It’s a low-risk product and provides some pretty nice control.”

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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