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Crop Production

Trialling the CONVISO® SMART system

10 December, 2019
Desmidpham will soon be unavailable, with the last date of sale onto farm being 1st January 2020. The last date for disposal or use is 1st July 2020.

Desmedipham is in products including (but not exclusive to): Betanal MaxxPro, Betanal Turbo, Betasana Trio and Sniper.
The potential loss of many chemical actives will mean innovations within seed breeding are essential. Alternative methods of weed control will need to be provided, to aid sustainable and profitable crop production in the UK.

The CONVISO® SMART system is a new approach to controlling weeds in sugar beet. This has been jointly developed by KWS and Bayer over the past 25 years. It was developed from a single plant out of 1.5 billion, which was found to host a naturally occurring herbicide tolerance. This has then been back crossed into the modern, hybrid SMART varieties.
There are two components to the CONVISO® SMART system:

  • SMART KWS seed: hybrid seeds which host a specific tolerant gene to the (Acetolactate Synthase) ALS-inhibitor based herbicide CONVISO® ONE. Currently only SMART JANNINKA KWS, featuring Rhizomania resistance, is on the BBRO recommended list, however there will be more varieties available.

  • CONVISO® ONE: broadleaved and grass weed herbicide, comprising of an oil-dispersion formulation containing 50 g/L foramsulfuron and 30 g/L thiencarbazonemethyl, as formulated by Bayer Crop Science. In the case of susceptible weeds, the herbicide binds to the acetolactate synthase enzyme, inhibiting the process of the substrate binding. This prevents protein production and growth. Within the tolerant sugar beet plants, the shape of the active site is different to susceptible plants, therefore the herbicide cannot bind.
  • Jacqueline Tilly, AF’s Crop Production Technical Co-ordinator, visited Mike Wilton, who has been hosting a CONVISO® Sugar Beet trial on the Stody Estate in North Norfolk.

    The estate has been growing beet for many years now, and are currently cropping in the region of 195 hectares, within its varied rotation.

    The sugar beet can follow outdoor pigs, which return organic matter to the soil, in addition to giving the land a break from any chemical control. In this case the weed seed return, and pressure within the following crop is high, a perfect site to test the CONVISO® system.

    From viewing the trial, the residual activity provided by CONVISO® ONE was impressive, with large weeds still being impacted long after the application date.

    The trial is set out in three rows, all SMART hybrid Janninka KWS seed: one sprayed with the CONVISO® ONE herbicide, one with a conventional herbicide programme, and one with both.

    In comparison to the standard programme, very high efficacy upon grassweeds could be noted, stemming mostly from the foramsulfuron active within the herbicide. The authorisation of the CONVISO® ONE herbicide product enables one application at 1.0L/ha, to be applied before growth stage BBCH 18, 8 leaves unfolded.
    Mike expressed his excitement about the technology, despite being disappointed that the approval for two applications not coming through.

    While CONVISO® ONE will bring a large increase in efficacy compared to existing sugar beet herbicides, the timing of the application will need to be managed. It will also look to be dependent on an individual field weed spectrum.
    This new approach, considered as smart weed control, should offer increased crop safety. However, it is likely to require management as a separate crop, with drill and sprayer hygiene proficiency being very influential.

    It is unlikely the technology will take the place of all current sugar beet and conventional programmes throughout the UK, with KWS continuing to focus on breeding sugar beet varieties both with and without herbicide tolerance. CONVISO® ONE is unlikely to be an overnight fix for growers, it will give excellent control of weed beet, but there will still likely be a seed bank present the next time the crop is grown. It must be clear that a zero bolter tolerance will be key and that ALS resistant groundkeepers will not be favoured. However, this system will, overall, provide many opportunities for growers, with more to offer than just weed control.

    This technology is set to come to the market for the 2020 season, with the expectation of a limited volume becoming available in the UK. The technology has already been successfully implemented in other countries across the world.
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