Competence areas



United States




August 2014

Integrated seed treatment solution proving effective


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Cotton seedlings are very susceptible to early season pests such as thrips and nematodes, but Bayer CropScience's integrated seed treatment solution, led by its industry-leading Aeris insecticide/ nematicide, is giving cotton farmers the best possible start for their crops.

A new challenge for cotton farmers

Lee Richardson has been a cotton farmer in southeast Missouri for 10 years, his father for 37 years. In recent years, this farming duo have faced a new challenge that began to wreak havoc on their cotton crops. “Thrips and nematodes have seemed to get worse every year,” Lee says. “Especially fields that have been in continuous cotton for many years.” Cotton in the seedling stage is very susceptible to both thrips and nematodes. Heavy thrips and nematode pressure can lead to delayed crop maturity, and significant yield losses, and in the case of thrips even to plants dying. Yield losses of around 1% per year are being reported. Yet thrips control has traditionally been pricey, with farmers paying an average of $20 per acre to protect their crops.
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Glyphosate-tolerant weeds

To make matters worse, many weed species are becoming tolerant to glyphosate. In recent years there has been an increasing need to once again use soil herbicides to manage the problems with resistant weeds. However, this can reduce plant growth during the first weeks after germination, leaving cotton plants even more susceptible to thrips and nematodes. “Due to the increased use of pre-emergence herbicides, which can under some weather conditions cause some root pruning on seedling cotton plants and are used to help control Roundup-resistant pigweed and other weeds, the need for good activity against seedling diseases and early season insect pests and nematodes at planting has become even more important,” explains Chip Graham, Bayer CropScience's principle scientist.

Profiting from past expertise

Bayer has a long history of innovative seed treatment solutions for cotton aimed at helping growers beat thrips and nematodes. “The development and launch of Aeris in 2008, a combination of Imidacloprid and Thiodicarb and Bayer's first seed treatment insecticide/nematicide with thrips and nematode activity, is an interesting story that ties past knowledge with present-day needs and opportunities, collaboration across country borders and a determined regulatory effort, and the willingness to take calculated risks,” says Lee Hall, insecticide product manager, Bayer CropScience U.S., who was on the team that developed Aeris.

Cotton by numbers

  • Total crop size of cotton in the U.S.: around 10 million acres
  • Most acreage in the Southwest, Midsouth and Southeast U.S.
  • Total crop acreage over the last 30 years: 9-15 million acres
  • Cotton yields per acre across the U.S. increasing over the past few years, with a few individual state yield records set in 2013
  • Biggest challenges for cotton growers: glyphosate-resistant pigweeds in some areas, enough water for irrigation in some areas, and increased late season insect pests (i.e. plant bugs)

Actives’ combination combats pests

In response to the impending launch of a competitor's nematicide/insecticide seed treatment for cotton, Bayer began evaluating the combination concepts of Imidacloprid with undifferentiated actives such as Abamectin. The team also began talking to other countries involved in cotton production. “Simultaneous to the U.S. discovery effort, serendipitous conversations with Bayer CropScience Australia revealed that organization's efforts to migrate away from their current seed treatment for their cotton business to a Thiodicarb/Imidacloprid concept called Amparo for early season chewing and sucking pest control,” Lee Hall explains. “With the distant memory and some digging through archival data from 1983 by Union Carbide researchers, we uncovered information on the nematicidal activity of Thiodicarb. The U.S. organization moved its development efforts to the evaluation of a combination of Thiodicarb/Imidacloprid.”
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Early season pest control

With a new label and after just one full season of field tests, Aeris was launched in time for the 2008 season. Today, Chip Graham says, “the combination of Trilex Advanced fungicide and Aeris insecticide/nematicide offers the grower a wonderful on-plant early season pest control.” In fact, Aeris has proven to be such an effective seed treatment solution that Steve Nichols, an agronomic manager with Bayer CropScience Seeds – U.S., recommends that every cotton seed he sells be treated with it. The reasons are simple he says: “Aeris provides up to 28 days of thrips protection – an excellent level and length of control among the seed treatments commercially available. Farmers like the simplicity of application and the flexibility to choose the addition of a fungicide.”

Aeris’ efficacy confirmed

Lee Richardson and his father can confirm how effective Aeris is: “Before we used Aeris seed treatment we had a lot of costly early season visible damage from thrips that made young cotton plants in the cotyledon stage die or be more susceptible to diseases. The damage was very devastating to young cotton plants. This would result in multiple early insecticide treatments.”

Improved emergence and health

“Before Aeris seed treatment,” Lee adds, “nematode pressure would suppress early root development in young cotton plants, hindering very important early plant growth. Nematodes would damage the root system, decreasing nutrient uptake, and it would make it hard for cotton plants to overcome other things such as thrip or sand-blowing damage.” Lee Richardson says they started using Aeris seed treatment around five years ago and it has changed their farming operation ever since. “It has been a very good seed treatment for our operation. Our cotton plants have better emergence and overall health throughout the growing season.” The dynamics in agriculture are always evolving, and Bayer not only recognizes the continuous need for new solutions but also stays ahead of that curve.

On the horizon

In what other ways will Bayer continue to offer solutions for cotton farmers in the future? Bayer is currently developing a new seed treatment fungicide and seed treatment nematicide. EverGol, Bayer’s newest seed treatment fungicide offering, was introduced on a very limited basis in 2013. Future EverGol downstream or dealer-applied products are under development. Bayer is also developing additional life cycle management extensions for Aeris with new unique chemistries for nematodes. These new product concepts will offer better activity than current seed treatment products against root knot and reniform nematodes.
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