If Clemson University’s Bruce Martin is impressed, nematode-battling field managers probably will be too.

Martin, a leading turf pathologist, said Bayer Environmental Science’s Indemnify, a new nematicide for nematode control, is “the most exciting product for nematode control that I have seen in my entire career.”

In July, Bayer held an event in Orlando, Florida, to roll out Indemnify to its distributors. Indemnify, which utilizes fluopyram as its active ingredient (AI), controls key root-feeding nematodes of turfgrass, including sting, root knot, ring and others. It also has activity on Anguina pacificae, a foliar-feeding nematode. Fluopyram, labeled for use on athletic fields and golf courses, is classified as a fungicide and represents a new mode of action for broad-spectrum control of nematodes.

Considering that Martin has been studying nematode control for much of his near 30-year career at Clemson, his statement about Indemnify speaks volumes.

“Nematodes are a major problem in Southern states like Florida and South Carolina,” Martin said. “We haven’t had a good solution for them in years. Until now.”

Many field managers formerly relied on Bayer’s Nemacur, an organophosphate that has been phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency. Field managers can use existing stocks of Nemacur through Oct. 6.

Indemnify became available in July.

“What we had before were old chemistries that had pretty much run their lifespans and had a lot of warts, such as high toxicity and negative environmental effects,” Martin says. “So the need [for a new nematicide] was there.”

Nematodes have historically been hard to control and kill, especially sting and root knot.

“That’s why harsh chemistry is what worked [previously],” Martin says. “The thing about Indemnify is it’s not a harsh chemistry; it’s a soft chemistry. It has low rates, high efficacy and long residual activity.”

Nematodes have been the bane of field managers and golf course superintendents for years. The roundworms thrive in sandy soil and they feed on turfgrass roots, disabling them from their ability to take up water and mine for nutrients. Alas, turfgrass is stressed and killed.

Jake Doskocil, Ph.D., product development manager for Bayer Environmental Science, said fluopyram’s activity on nematodes was discovered about six years ago. The AI basically blocks nematodes’ cellular respiration and limits their ability to produce energy. When introduced to fluopyram, the energy-drained nematodes straighten out and can’t move, Doskocil said. They stop feeding on roots and eventually die.

“The take-home message is: This is a very stable molecule,” Doskocil says. “The product moves into the active zone and stays there.”

Indemnify can be used preventively and curatively on warm- and cool-season grasses, according to Derek Settle, Ph.D., a member of Bayer’s Green Solutions Team. Preventively, it can be used in the fall to control nematodes and optimize root health prior to dormancy or to ensure healthy roots during semi- dormancy. It can also be used preventively in the spring to control nematodes and ensure normal green-up and transition of turfgrass. Curatively, Indemnify can be used any time of the year when nematodes are a problem.

Historically, the nematode problem has been confined to the South. Northern nematodes are less abundant and have less damaging impact on turf, but they can stress turf enough to allow disease to more easily set in. Hence, Indemnify can rid the nematodes on Northern athletic fields.

While Indemnify controls the worst offending nematodes, it isn’t labeled to control lance and spiral nematodes.

“Does Indemnify have some weaknesses? Yes,” Settle says. “We don’t get all the nematodes.”

But Settle said research is ongoing to improve the product to control them.

“Even though we have a product launched into the market, we don’t stop researching,” Doskocil says. “You never stop learning about a product, even those that have been in the market for 10 years.”