For years there was hardly any movement in the field of fungicidal seed treatment solutions for vegetables, according to René Huismans (Syngenta / FarMore Technology). "The market was dominated by products such as thiram, carbendazim and iprodion."
He says that a big reason why the industry did not look for alternatives is that the existing products are both affordable and effective. Additionally, the size of the market in relation to the volume of the product is very small.
The costs for developing new products were too high for this relatively small market. The situation changed when it became clear that carbendazim would be banned and that other products such as thiophanate methyl, thiabendazole and after 2019 thiram also came under pressure.
The reduction in the number of available products was already visible in 2006. In collaboration with Plantum, Syngenta started on a project in 2007 to maintain good protection of seeds and young plants.
After many years of research, in 2013 an alternative called Maxim 480FS became available for the first group of crops including cabbage, onions and carrots.
On January 23 this year, a number of leafy vegetables, tomato and cucumber plants were added to this list. However, René thinks there are obstacles to overcome, such as the increasingly complex regulations for obtaining a registration and the non-standardized approach to seed treatment agents in Europe and the various EU member states.
"At the moment Syngenta is working on preparing the third group of crops, the so-called minor crops. Flower seeds, all kinds of herbs and smaller arable crops risk getting into trouble because after 2019 there will be no adequate protection agents against seed and soil-bound fungi.
The Netherlands is the second largest exporter of vegetable seeds in the world, and the quality of the starting material is a driving force for this. Seeds protected against disease are therefore essential. In many countries it's mandatory to treat seeds before they can be imported, so it's crucial that an approved solution is available."
Syngenta therefore also takes care of product guidance in importing countries and how they should be used, in addition to getting their products approved in the Netherlands.
The FarMore Technology project deals with the development of chemical and biological products and Application Techniques and Services that are developed to grow vegetable seeds in a responsible way.
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