In South Africa, maize and soybean are big business. Respectively, they are farmed across 2.6 million hectares and 1.14 million hectares of land in the country. The sizeable contribution these crops make means it’s essential to support them with innovations such as seed treatments to secure productivity and resilience.
And right now, those innovations are more clearly needed than ever. In a changing climate, unfavorable cold and wet conditions have become more common. These conditions enable fungal diseases to spread easily, including Fusarium and Pythium, which attack maize and soybean seeds and seedlings, potentially delaying or entirely preventing germination. Even after germination, the plants are still susceptible before and shortly after emergence.
To withstand these threats and safeguard crop establishment, growers need a solution that offers robust protection in the earliest stages of a plant’s life, right from planting. Enter EverGol Energy: Bayer’s premium fungicide seed treatment, with three active ingredients offering contact and systemic protection against seed decay and damping off.
EverGol Energy has been identified as a stand-out solution for the market, because of its efficacy against key diseases but also more besides. In fact, it supports crop emergence and plant establishment in a wide range of ways. These benefits can be summarized as: FIT, FAST, FIRST. A healthier, more robust crop; quicker action and crop emergence; and an advantage in terms of crop establishment and therefore yield potential.
Rodney Ndou, SeedGrowth Portfolio Manager RSA, explains why the arrival of EverGol Energy is such an exciting moment: “It’s like we are bringing an entire tailored solution to the market, because we’re offering a fungicide seed treatment that is going to help against both Fusarium spp. and Pythium spp. on maize and soybean. There was a huge need for a fungicide seed treatment like this in South Africa.”
“‘FIT, FAST, FIRST’ really sums up what we want growers to experience with this solution. We want growers to have healthier, more robust and high-performing root systems in soybean and maize crops, contributing to crop quality and productivity. We want them to see quicker and more uniform emergence through plants’ critical youth phase. And we want to help them come first in terms of yield, by preventing diseases and promoting healthy growth from the beginning.”
Registration and trials lasted several years, but finally, EverGol Energy 176.6 FS was ready for launch in 2023. This was a significant occasion for SeedGrowth customers – so we marked it with a memorable launch campaign that was truly in the spirit of the EverGol Energy value proposition.
On track for success
Work on the campaign started back in the fourth quarter of 2022, as Angeline Verster, Branding Campaign Activation and Brand Specialist, explains: “That was when we held a workshop with every team – field solutions, market development, go-to-market managers, and other key stakeholders – to understand how best to position EverGol Energy, what we should say when we talk about it, and what campaign activations could look like.”
“That enabled us to develop the various marketing, communication and branding elements in 2023. We followed a 360-degree approach, engaging with stakeholders on various platforms at various touchpoints, starting with Nampo Harvest Day, the biggest agricultural show in South Africa.”
“But the focal point was undoubtedly the launch event at the AMG Driving Academy at Zwartkops Raceway on 19 September.”
Key stakeholders, including representatives of seed houses and licensees, were invited to the launch day, with printed and digital invitations preceding a ‘goodie box’ with gifts representing the different aspects of FIT, FAST, FIRST. That kept them engaged ahead of the day itself, which included information sessions, a photoshoot to get each guest’s photo on the cover of a custom EverGol Energy brochure, and the main event: a thrilling racing experience on the track with high-performance AMG cars. All with a visible and consistent EverGol Energy theme.
It’s not often that a seed treatment launch involves high-speed racetrack driving. Where did this spectacular idea come from? “We knew that the launch had to tie in with the key messages relating to the product,” says Angeline. “We asked ourselves: What is fit, fast and first all at once? Of course: Formula One. As a Formula One driver, you need to be fit to drive. It’s fast, obviously; and it is all about aiming for first place too.
“So, after a few discussions, we decided a driving experience would be great. Initially it was more of a driving course, but the messaging demanded something more distinctive. So we approached AMG. Their brand is seen as superior and high-performing – an excellent match with EverGol Energy. From there, the whole concept for the track event came together.”
Seed companies are along for the ride
The launch day wasn’t just about the driving experience: it was also a chance for stakeholders to learn about EverGol Energy in more depth. “The day changed their whole perception of fungicide seed treatments,” says Rodney. “Attendees were very involved. They asked a lot of questions about the benefits of EverGol Energy. And when we shared the relevant information, both from a farmer and a treater perspective, that’s when they started to say, ‘You know what? This is a product we need to include in our recipes.’ EverGol Energy’s efficacy and support for early establishment are a clear winner – as are its exemplary plantability and flowability.”
Seed companies are clearly interested – and that’s the crucial next step in getting EverGol Energy onto the South African market. It will exclusively be delivered by professional treaters, rather than on-farm treatment, which means discussions are underway with seed houses to find the product offers and combinations that are right for them. “With some channel partners, we are still running trials in maize and soybean,” says Rodney. “With others, we are already drafting commercial offers, sending quotations, and talking to their management about adopting EverGol Energy in their recipes in future. Depending on their specific needs, we are offering it individually or part of a bundle – with Create for cob and tassel smut, or Gaucho Flexx 600 for insecticide coverage. This will be combined with a machinery offer too.”
Bringing FIT, FAST, FIRST to growers
Although the launch and go-to-market are focused on value chain customers, Rodney and Angeline are clear that it’s ultimately growers that EverGol Energy is designed around. “At the end of the day, everything we do with EverGol Energy is for the farmer,” says Angeline. “Our aim is to better his farming operation, to increase his yield, to make his whole life easier with the best products we can offer him. And from a marketing aspect, we’ll still be creating pull from the farmer, communicating the story of EverGol Energy and its advantages.”
Those advantages could be even more comprehensive than first thought. Its excellent performance is delivered with just three active ingredients. It also offers additional benefits for the farmer experience, such as low dust and abrasion, which support operator safety and active ingredient retention. And the exclusive availability of EverGol Energy on certified seeds could even convince farmers to transition from farm-saved, which will have further benefits in terms of yield potential.
But, overall, everything comes back to FIT, FAST, FIRST: the ability to prevent diseases and support healthy growth right from the beginning, therefore securing higher marketable yields even in challenging conditions.
As Angeline says: “Excellence with EverGol Energy!”