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  • 100 Years of Innovation in Seed Treatment


A genuine game-changer

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When scientists working at Bayer’s Japanese crop protection research center discovered a new active ingredient in 1985, they could hardly have guessed that it would revolutionize insecticidal seed treatment. But that is exactly what Imidacloprid has done. Not only did it pave the way for a new generation of seed treatment products to control sucking or biting pests, it also gave crops a totally unexpected Stress Shield™, with beneficial effects on plant growth, productivity and quality. Nearly three decades later, Imidacloprid is still the world’s No. 1 seed-applied insecticide.

The first lab tests in Japan proved most promising: Imidacloprid, a low-toxicity nitroguanidine substance, was found to be highly effective in controlling a wide range of sucking and biting pests. The field trials that followed brought successful reports from all over the world: Imidacloprid had displayed outstanding efficacy in rice and corn, cereals and vegetables, potatoes and fruit, cotton and sunflowers, tobacco and hops, citrus fruits and sugar beet in particular. An insecticidal star was born.


Imidacloprid was launched as Gaucho in 1991. Within a few years, this seed treatment was being used to protect more than 140 horticultural and agricultural crops against the ravages of sucking and biting pests in nearly 120 countries of the world. It is no exaggeration to say that Gaucho revolutionized seed treatment since this systemic seed-applied technology replaced foliar insecticide sprays or high volume in-furrow granular insecticides that had, up to then, been applied to protect a plant in the early stages of its growth. That reduced the time pressure farmers faced when weather conditions in spring were unfavorable as well as the logistically complex and time consuming activity of applying granules. Optimal application technology, ease of use, absolutely no weather risk: Gaucho proved a real milestone in insecticidal seed treatments.

Outstanding efficacy in sugar beet

Unfortunately, sugar beet is highly attractive to pests. Maybe they all have a sweet tooth. The wireworm, for example, attacks the seedling in the soil while pests such as the mangold fly (beet leaf miner) or aphids have a go at the plant once it has emerged. Gaucho deals with all the pests that attack sugar beet as a seedling or at the post-emergence stage. Moreover, seed-applied Gaucho saves up to three applications of foliar insecticides, with the obvious benefits that that brings.

Stress Shield™ – the unexpected benefit

After Gaucho was launched, farmers noticed that, even under pest-free conditions, seeds treated with Gaucho developed bigger and greener plants with a more uniform crop stand than untreated seeds. A more detailed analysis of trial results revealed interesting yield effects with clear indications that abiotic stress factors such as drought, heat, cold, etc. as well as certain biotic stress factors had less impact on germinating seeds that had been treated with Gaucho. Seedlings are vulnerable to stress, especially early in the season. Gaucho seed treatment apparently improved the vigor of seedling plants and helped to establish a good crop stand, which is important in maximizing crop yield. The results of field trials carried out over several years and studies conducted by independent research institutes confirmed that Gaucho and Confidor, another insecticide based on Imidacloprid, helped to ensure a good crop start. Bayer CropScience named this phenomenon Stress Shield™. The benefits it brings include increased vigor and yield along with greatly increased resistance to abiotic stress factors like cold, drought, heat and excess light, as well as increased resistance to biotic stress factors such as certain bacteria, fungi and viruses.

Minimizing early stress factors for plants

As seed-applied technology has become increasingly sophisticated, the cost of a bag of seed has gone up for many crops. So growers are obviously interested in minimizing losses. For early-season plantings the weather may be too cold or wet, for later-season plantings too dry. Germinated seedlings stop growing under such stress conditions and become more sensitive to pathogens and other negative influences. The weakest seedlings do not survive and the result is an irregular crop stand count. Drought stress reduces photosynthesis and plants stop growing. The outcome is an irregular stand of some bigger and smaller plants, which impacts on later-season crop management later, e.g. weed control and harvest timing. Since seedling plants may have to face tough conditions just after sowing, this early phase is critical for their final development. Strong crop establishment and a good stand count are essential for good yield, and that is where the Stress Shield that comes with applications of Gaucho or Confidor does a great job. Yet another example of the game-changing impact of the active ingredient Imidacloprid!


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