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Hi-Tech Farming: A British company tells weed scientists it will find new modes of action using a proprietary plant-led discovery engine.

Tom J. Bechman, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

March 12, 2024

3 Min Read
 Weeds in a soybean field
MEET THE ENEMY: Weeds aren’t backing down. Instead, they’ve used the 35-year gap in new modes of action in field crop herbicides to ramp up resistance in multiple species against various herbicides. Tom J. Bechman

For nearly 35 years, a new herbicide rundown for field crops has consisted of unique names for new combinations of existing active ingredients. Weed scientists are clamoring for a truly new herbicide with a novel mode of action to battle resistant weeds.

Moa Technology, an agricultural biotechnology startup linked to Oxford University in England, told weed scientists gathered for national meetings in the U.S. that it has developed a proprietary plant-led discovery engine. This “engine” already generated a promising pipeline of novel herbicides advancing toward field trials.

The engine is called the Galaxy platform, and it helps screen compounds six times faster than traditional methods, spokespersons report. So far, the company has screened 750,000 chemical and natural compounds, and identified 60 novel mode-of-action areas. Their performance has been documented in work in greenhouses. Learn more at

Corn herbicide registered

Surtain from BASF recently received registration from U.S. EPA and is ready for use, pending state regulatory approvals. It stakes a claim as the first solid premix formulated product on the market. This residual herbicide can be applied postemergence up to three weeks after planting.

Spokespersons indicate that it can control weeds such as Palmer amaranth, giant ragweed, waterhemp and grasses. Visit

New cereals herbicide

Vios FX from Bayer is the newest cereal herbicide registered by EPA in the U.S. Approval is still pending in some states. This new choice targets control of tough weeds, including Group 1 resistant wild oats, foxtail and kochia. Key active ingredients include Group 2 thiencarbazone-methyl and Group 4 fluroxypyr.

Spokesmen note that this herbicide can be added to various mixes of other products to customize control in specific fields. Learn more at

Enzymes for sidedressing

Helena Agri-Enterprises expanded the label for its Zypro soil amendment so it can be used with sidedress fertilizer applications. The company reports an 83% win rate and 5.8-bushel-per-acre yield increase in research trials in corn.

How does it help? Spokespersons say this stabilized enzyme provides a more productive soil environment for roots. Learn more at

Grain insecticide

If worries about weevils and lesser grain borers chewing on stored grain keep you up at night, Central Life Sciences has a solution. The company, based in Schaumburg, Ill., introduces Gravista-D.

Gravista-D is an insecticide for stored corn and certain other grains. Add it as the grain flows into the bin. Gravista-D combines a synergized adulticide with an insect growth regulator. The label claims control of many types of adult insects. Visit

Early disease detection

A beefed-up, high-tech solution for early disease detection will be available in the Midwest this summer. Agtrinsic, Bloomington, Ill., owned by Evergreen FS, and Toronto-based Spornado are teaming up. Together, they will offer an early alert system to detect crop disease integrated into Agtrinsic’s Broad Scale Disease Model, which uses machine learning.

The goal is to detect fungal diseases before you can see symptoms. Agtrinsic says its service will cover all of Illinois and Iowa in 2024. Learn more at and

About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman is editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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