From the beginning of time people have sought solutions to the world around them.
Interestingly, many advances have been found without that aim in sight: Fleming discovered penicillin after forgetting to wash up; velcro was designed after an engineer was frustrated by burrs in his socks; spinosad was developed when a scientist was exploring an abandoned distillery.
Not everyone has the type of enquiring mind to take small, random observations and study how it works and what application it may have. Fewer still have the resources to make that application available to the world.
In agriculture, there are now only six global companies that have the capacity for this type of research. These companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on searching for new molecules and bringing them to market.
Many are the result of intensive screening programs; but there are some that develop from incidental observations such as those mentioned, which all occurred whilst on holiday!
Some may argue that we have advanced so far, we have many alternatives to every problem, the era of discovery is behind us. That is not so. Now, it is more imperative than ever for discovery to continue and to find solutions.
The world’s population is predicted to tip 9 billion by 2040 (The World Bank), yet our resources are dwindling as agricultural land and water are lost to other uses, and soil fertility is declining. The future must embrace every advancement and seek more solutions to both feeding the world whilst preserving our environment.
In Australia, we’re grappling with loss of agricultural land, herbicide and insecticide resistance to multiple modes of action, our harsh climate and the cost price squeeze facing many farmers. As an industry we must continue to provide new solutions to emerging issues; reliance only on old technology is leading to new problems.
Using an integrated approach, with correct use pesticides, and choosing selective pesticides, is critical and allows for the best return today, and tomorrow. However, resistance is not the only argument for choosing new chemistry for your spray tank. Toxicological standards have increased, ensuring new products are safer for you and the environment. Proprietary chemistry is produced to strict standards so there is little potential for the product not meeting its specfication and/or containing harmful excipients. New products come with educational and stewardship components, ensuring rapid transfer of knowledge.
Finally, there’s the argument of discovery. Supporting companies and their brands that are actively investing in the field of discovery ensures that the capacity for research – the inquisitive mind backed by global resources – is still available for generations to come.
Article kindly provided by Dow AgroSciences Australia Ltd.