Gaucho® is making a comeback in South Africa, where farmers are rediscovering its ability to protect plant growth and yields despite a high number of stresses.
Gaucho is one of the oldest and best-known crop protection brands in Africa. However, the brand had a furlough period as other brands came to the fore. Today, however, it is coming back – and it has been tailored to South Africa, its agricultural conditions, and the needs of its farmers. How is that so? Firstly, a new formulation and packaging are being introduced for the African continent. Secondly, although Gaucho is primarily used for cotton in other territories, its focus in South Africa continues to be on corn, the biggest crop in the country. Finally, the range has expanded and become even more flexible. Initially relaunched on Dekalb corn seeds in Malawi, its use is set to grow, in terms of both geography and the seeds it is applied to.
Now is the right time for Gaucho
Gaucho and other seed treatments changed the market when they were first introduced. They still play an important role today. Agronomists estimate that if CNIs were no longer available, South African farmers would face a production loss of 25-35%.
Some things are changing, however. Firstly, drought conditions in Africa necessitate a product like Gaucho that functions well despite stresses. Secondly, farmers and consumers are more aware of their environmental responsibilities and the need to protect pollinators. That’s why today, Bayer’s commitment to product stewardship is greater than ever. All treated seeds are tested thoroughly for compatibility between seed treatment recipe and seed, across multiple hybrids and seed types. Additionally, as an equipment services provider, Bayer has a knowledge base relating to every stage in the seed treatment process – meaning it doesn’t stop at just providing products, but acts as a partner to customers, giving technical advice and practical insights. The ultimate goal for Bayer, farmers and the environment is the same: safe, sustainable and responsible use.
Why is Gaucho the best choice?
Gaucho’s game-changing performance is what made it so popular to farmers in the first place. Data collated over the past five years indicates that it is still the most effective product on the market for controlling maize streak virus (MSV). Many farmers remember using Gaucho and are happy to see this well-known brand come back to prominence.
Today, in southern Africa, pest pressure is worsening. This is where Gaucho really provides a valuable service. It’s always debatable which is the ‘best’ product for a particular crop or target species, but when it comes to the measurement that really matters – yield at harvest time – Gaucho repeatedly shows excellent results. Collecting data from five trials over five years, treating seeds with Gaucho correlated with an average 14.38% yield increase; meanwhile, two competitor products averaged 5.15% and 1.65%. It is when the pressure increases – greater prevalence of MSV, high temperatures, insufficient water – that the effects of Gaucho really come to the fore.
Plus, when used to its full potential, Gaucho offers cost benefits across the entire seasonal cycle of a field. Seed treatments require a higher upfront payment, but they allow farmers to save elsewhere, particularly in terms of how much seed they need to buy. Smallholder farmers are used to planting three maize seeds per hole; using premium seed treatments opens up a new model where they can plant just one high-quality seed.
The future outlook
Bayer is working to make sure farmers have all the information they need about Gaucho – holding farmers’ days and information clinics where farmers can learn more about how it works, the results it can achieve, and how they can use it to its full potential. Look out for a new quick-reference guide summarizing the key facts about Gaucho. This information will also be available virtually, via product bulletins sent through WhatsApp.
Discussions are also underway with key stakeholders on how we can make the benefits of Gaucho available to as many South African growers as possible. Once this is determined, the availability of Gaucho should increase as more seed companies offer seeds pre-treated with Gaucho.
There is a lot of positivity among growers and advisors about what Gaucho can bring to African agriculture. Gaucho, in combination with the right hybrid, is recognized as something Africa needs.
Gaucho in South Africa
• Control of leafhopper (the main vector of streak disease) in maize
• Activity against sucking pests on maize and sorghum
• Weevil control in sunflowers
• Aphid control in wheat and cotton
• Seed safety: Application on the seed is safe for farmers
• Best results against MSV, year after year
• Absorbs quickly and immediately into the plant
• Protects yield even when a variety of stresses are present
• Does not leach out of soil easily in irrigated or high-rainfall areas
• Bayer can offer a full set of services, including coatings, technical support and machinery