By Heather Briggs

Three new active ingredients are planned to be launched between 2019 and 2023, FMC country leader for UK and Ireland, Simon McMunn, revealed recently.

A new herbicide, Bixlozone, is expected to be available in Europe around 2023. It is in the same class as clomazone and effective on grasses and broadleaf weeds, and can be used for pre-emergence and early post-emergence application. Mr McMunn said: “Bixlozone is an exciting new herbicide for the UK for use on cereals and potatoes.”

Two new fungicides with a broad-spectrum disease control are also in the company’s expanding portfolio.

Bixafen – which was launched this year in the US – and Fluindapyr, an SDHI that targets a range of rusts in cereals, will be introduced in global markets, with first sales in the UK expected to be around 2023.

Trials across the UK are planned to start later this year for some of these new products so growers can see them in action, he added.

The company is also working on a wide range of molecules with new modes of action against key pests and diseases such as rusts and black grass which are expected to become available in the near future.

Mc McMunn drew attention to five brand new actives in the R and D discovery pipeline for weed control, another four for insect and nematode control, and six fungicides.

He emphasised that while FMC’s core business is centred around synthetic crop protection, biologicals are likely to play an increasing role in complementing conventional chemistry by providing alternative modes of action to help prevent pests developing resistance.

“With increasing consumer demand for greater food transparency and increasing pressure to lower levels of pesticide usage, combined with a need for greater resistance management, we are working hard to discover and develop biological products with multiple modes of action to combat pest resistance.”

Work developing a competitive portfolio of biological crop protection products and seed treatment initiatives is underway, revealed European FMC director, Dr Duncan Aust. These include bio-fungicides, bio-nematicides, bio-insecticides, bio-stimulants and/or crop nutrition, some of which have already been launched in Brazil and Asia. “We already have bio-fungicides for row crops, fruit and vegetables in the development and registration process in Europe,” said Dr Aust.

He underlined the potential of biological seed treatments in suppressing soil diseases such as fusarium and rhizoctonia solani, and the likelihood of yield protection playing key role in the future. As a result, research is already underway on a particular strain of bacillus licheniformis that improves plant health and vigour, with a view to it becoming a complementary solution for seed treatment, he said.

Explaining how the company starts its research process, he pointed out that the first step was soil sampling followed by microbiome analysis to identify activity against plant pathogens. This is because areas with healthy crops are healthy can indicate where useful strains of bacteria may reside, he said.

“We are looking for biocidal effects, repellency and the potential to switch on the plant’s own defence mechanisms.”

The next step is to identify potential compounds capable of targeting the pathogen and measuring their effectiveness. They are then formulated in laboratories and sent into the field for on-farm testing.

“We have already found some useful information which may help fight Alternaria solani, sclerotinia sclerotiorum and phytophthora capsica.”

In addition to biopesticides, the company has biostimulants ready for market, including in the UK, noted Mr McMunn.

He highlighted the importance of R and D to the company across three crop protection categories, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides

“By focusing on innovation, FMC is aiming to become one of the UK’s top providers of synthetic and biological plant protection products,” he pointed out.