What kind of fungicides do you think golf courses will use 20 years from now?

Editor’s note: In February and March, Superintendent magazine features a two-part question-and-answer series on fungicide technology. In each segment, representatives from the industry’s vast number of chemical companies will be asked one question in regard to fungicide technology. The representatives’ answers are listed along with their photos. Later in the year, we’ll feature Q&A’s about herbicide and insecticide technology.

Matthew Weaver | Senior Technical Services Advisor and Certified Golf Course Superintendent, CIVITAS

I see the growth of plant activator products playing a significant role in the future of turf management. Plant activators work indirectly by utilizing the natural abilities of the plant. Essentially, they initiate a sequence of events within the plant to trigger many self-preservation responses. What’s interesting about these types of products are the relationships between self-defense responses and mitigation of plant stress – whether of biotic origin (for example pathogens) or abiotic, such as drought, nutrient deficiencies, temperature extremes and wear.

Howard Jaekle | Fungicide Brand Manager, Syngenta Turf & Landscape

Twenty years from now, fungicides and other products will need to help superintendents become more sustainable to address environmental factors and water utilization. We believe that future fungicides will be more disease specific and that technology will provide stronger diagnostic capabilities, enhancing the superintendent’s ability to effectively manage diseases. We are excited about the future and our capabilities of delivering technologies that assist superintendents in producing the best turf possible for their customers.

 

Mike Hirvela | Fungicides Business Manager, Bayer CropScience

Future active ingredients (AIs) will be even more effective targeting specific diseases at low use rates. Expect AIs to provide an expanding array of ancillary benefits such as plant health, induced systemic resistance (ISR) and systemic acquired resistance (SAR). Biologic fungicides will improve in efficacy to help superintendents manage plant health and environmental concerns. Precision turf management will be a changing factor in application technology, utilizing intelligent equipment and highly selective fungicides to target only active areas of disease.

Owen Towne | President, Phoenix/UPI

I expect that fungicides used and the diseases they target will be quite different from today. Fungicides will be more active at lower rates, have a more favorable environmental profile and be more target specific. There will also be focused research on improving a plant’s genetic capability to fend off disease, which will impact both the quantity and type of products selected. While there are a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of diseases can be effectively controlled today. The challenge will be to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature, who has proven to adapt to many of our historical control products.

 

Adam Manwarren | Fungicide Brand Manager, FMC Professional Solutions

Twenty years from now, I believe synthetic fungicides will evolve into hybrid formulations containing beneficial biological microbes and spores that promote plant health. Today, you can’t turn a page in a trade magazine without being bombarded with plant health messages. However, where the “plant health” will come from will change based on enhanced formulation capabilities. These enhanced formulations should also enable longer application windows from seven- to 14-day schedules to 14- to 21-day schedules at similar low use rates.

Trevor Thorley | President, Engage Agro USA

As society continues to trend toward sustainability, so will golf course superintendents. Products with active ingredients that are deemed “safer” for the environment will continue to be the focus of chemical manufacturers. Superintendents will be seeking OMRI-listed products or new methods of control and will be using fungicides that are effective, yet have minimal impact on the environment. Companies that are currently seeking alternative resistance management products will have the upper hand in 20 years.

 

Jerry Corbett | Technical Services Manager/ Product Development, Quali-Pro

Ideally, we’d like to see new fungicide chemistry, but there just doesn’t seem to be much happening there. What we use today and how we use it will impact what we need in the future. Disease resistance is always a concern, and disease identification can be challenging, so in the future we may depend more on fungicide combinations to provide the broad-spectrum disease efficacy to help address this challenge.

Rick Fletcher | Technical Services Manager, Nufarm

Pharmaceutical development will continue to be the driving force in identifying new active ingredients for fungal pests. What these will be are numerous, but if I knew the future would you believe me If I told you? A review of the current 2013 FRAC listing identifies five fungicides with a “U” or unknown mode of action. That said, 20 years from now, what will remain is the plant placement and movement constraints that we understand today as barrier protectants, localized penetrants and largely upwardly moving systemics.

 

Doug Houseworth | Turf and Ornamental Technical Manager, Arysta LifeScience

Fungicide use by golf course superintendents and grounds crews 20 years from now most likely will look quite different than what it does today. With environmental pressures from outside agencies and continued restrictions at both the federal and state levels, usage of conventional chemistries may be reduced – reduced availability of the chemistries currently used or reduced maximum seasonal and/or yearly rates. New chemistries will be introduced similar to present-day conventional chemistries, and we’ll add and expand upon biopesticides and organic controls. With that, biopesticides and organic controls definitely will play a role in future fungicide usage because of their “cleaner chemistry” reputations and ability to fit into current integrated pest management (IPM) programs.

Augie Young | Key Account Manager, SipcamAdvan

Superintendents are environmental stewards today and will be more so 20 years forward. Factors that influence their fungicide choices today – efficacy, environmental impact, convenience and cost – will still be every bit as important. However, fungicide use of tomorrow will surely be integrated with newer technology. A smartphone or tablet photo may generate real-time disease diagnostics and prescription control from a lab. The control solutions will then be delivered in fully enclosed packaging to reduce exposure. Finally, automated or robotic application equipment utilizing GPS mapping will deliver the precise amount of product to the target, perhaps at the same time as mowing, rolling or aerating the turf. Beam me up Scotty!