Sports Field Management - January, 2013

FEATURES

Industry Advancements: Weed Control

By Katie Meyers

Jim Goodrich, PBI/Gordon Corp.

Over the past few decades, herbicides have evolved from heavy-use rate, long-residual products to low-use rate, shorter-residual products, according to Goodrich, product sales specialist - professional turf and ornamental products for PBI/Gordon Corp.

"The idea behind a multiple active product was to capitalize on the weed control characteristics of each active in the combination, creating a synergistic effect. This synergism allowed for lower amounts of each active to be applied, in combination, while still accomplishing the task of eradicating the weeds," Goodrich said.

PBI/Gordon's Trimec and SpeedZone showcase this combined approach. Trimec's formulation uses three active ingredients (2, 4-D, MCPP and Dicamba) and can wipe out over 200 major weeds. SpeedZone features the same Trimec complex, but adds a fourth active ingredient (carfentrazone) to increase the number of weeds controlled, as well as the speed of kill and control.

One of the current trends in the weed control industry is the demand for specialty herbicides, Goodrich said. These specialty products offer a very low active ingredient load per acre, but still provide excellent weed control. PBI/Gordon developed Katana herbicide to meet this demand. It contains the single active ingredient flazasulfuron and controls a broad spectrum of grassy weeds, broadleaf weeds and sedges in warm-season turf.

Looking toward the future, Goodrich predicts that sports turf managers will continue to seek out herbicides that are as effective, but environmentally friendly.

"The direction the weed control industry is headed in the future is moving toward more complex formulations which have lower VOCs [volatile organic compounds], less active ingredient being applied per acre and lower use rates (1 to 5 ounces per acre compared to 3 to 4 pints per acre)."

PBI/Gordon is currently developing formulations that lower the environmental impact with low to no solvents, low phytotoxicity and no flashpoint concerns that they hope to introduce to the market within the next couple years.

To learn more, visit www.pbigordon.com.

Dean Mosdell, Ph.D., Syngenta

One of the major developments in sports field management is the high quality of fields at all levels. Conditions that were once only seen on professional-level turf are now attainable, and even expected, at college, high school and municipal facilities.

Mosdell, western technical manager for Syngenta, said the evolution of sports field quality followed the lead of golf, and that chemical manufacturers are striving to develop products to help field managers meet the rising standard of excellence.

"It's all about the playing conditions; how to make a better playing field. [Weed control] is a cog in the progression of improving sports fields," he said.

Syngenta's Tenacity is a selective herbicide that controls 46 broadleaf weeds and undesired grasses, including nimblewill, crabgrass, bentgrass and nutsedge, in most cool-season turf types. In addition to weed control on established turf, Tenacity can also be applied at seeding to reduce weed competition for improved seedling development. Tenacity was granted Reduced Risk status by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to its active ingredient, mesotrione, which has favorable ecotoxicity and human health profiles.

Mosdell noted that another industry trend he's noticed is that field managers are pushing the boundaries of turf climates, and warm-season grasses are being planted in areas that were historically too far north for those varieties to be maintained successfully.

For weed control on warm-season turf, Syngenta introduced Monument 75WG, a broad-spectrum selective herbicide that controls all major sedges and more than 40 other weeds.

Mosdell says Syngenta will continue to develop new solutions for the evolving weed control industry. Areas of focus in the future will include looking at new molecules, targeting specific weeds and looking across all grass types.

Visit www.syngenta.com for more information.

Jeff Michel, Bayer Crop Science

In an industry as closely regulated as the chemical industry, manufacturers must constantly develop new products to meet changing standards while still satisfying the needs of field managers. Bayer Crop Science is one of the companies rising to meet the challenge.

"Being under consistent scrutiny has led to an enhanced ecological profile. What you're seeing today is really a raising of the bar on an ecological profile," said Michel, herbicides business manager, environmental science division.

While protecting the environment is one aspect of product safety, protecting the players on the field is even more important. Michel said Bayer holds all of its products, whether for sports fields, golf courses or home lawns, to the same high standard. Lowering toxicity while maintaining efficacy has been a staple of Bayer's product development.

Specticle FLO, one of Bayer's preemergent herbicides, provides broad-spectrum control of many weeds in warm-season turf, but its toxicity is low enough that the EPA does not require a signal word on its product label. Specticle G controls Poa annua, crabgrass, goosegrass and more than 60 broadleaf weeds, as well as annual sedges and kyllingas, and can also be used on ornamentals and in hardscape areas.

Introduced last year, Tribute Total, a postemergent option from Bayer, provides broad-spectrum weed control in bermudagrass. Tribute Total is readily absorbed by the foliage and carried to the site of action in the growing points of the susceptible plant.

While there are many effective and safe weed control options on the market, Michel stresses that above all, the very best weed prevention is a stand of thick, healthy turf.

"Its' always been important to look at the basics if you're going to manage a sports field. Fertilizer, fertility, making sure you've got the right soil conditions to grow really good looking turf, irrigation ... you've got to make sure you have the systems in place to keep turf going in the right direction," he said.

Looking ahead, Michel predicted that program approaches to weed prevention will continue to gain popularity, and that enhanced ecological profiles will lead Bayer's product development for sports field maintenance.

"Top-notch professionals are doing this work. They know their business, they know their fields, they know what's going on, and it's part of our job to make sure they continue to have the tools to be able to provide the best playable conditions."

For more on Bayer Crop Science, visit www.backedbybayer.com.