Editor’s note: In October and November, Superintendent magazine features a two-part Q&A series on herbicide technology. In each segment, representatives from the industry’s vast number of chemical companies are asked one question in regard to herbicide technology. The representatives’ answers are listed below. 

Read Part 1 here! 

Question: What kind of herbicides do you think golf course superintendents will  use 20 years from now?

Kyle Miller | Senior Market
Development Specialist, BASF

I believe we’ll continue to see new products developed that are targeted at tough-to-control or problem weeds. However, I expect that many of the older products currently on the market will remain because of their effectiveness. Today we use products that were introduced 30, 40 and even 50 years ago. One might wonder if in 20 years we will have a pre-emergent that is safe for all turfgrasses and will provide season-long control with a single application regardless of your location in the U.S.

Laurence Mudge | Manager,
Green Solutions Team, Bayer

Many factors can impact what herbicides golf course superintendents will have available to control weeds in 20 years. Regulatory pressures, both national and local in nature, could have an impact. Superintendents will continue to rely on both pre-emergent and postemergent herbicides for weed control. However, 20 years from now we may have some new active ingredients available and many of our current active ingredients may no longer be available. In addition, there is research evaluating biological herbicides. We may all have to learn to deal with a few more weeds on our golf courses.

Rick Fletcher | Technical Services Manager, Nufarm

I fully expect golf course superintendents to be using new active ingredients along with some of the current and even older standards that are available today. Weed resistance and shifts will continue, and the need to incorporate additional active ingredients and modes of actions will only increase. Maintaining efficacy at the highest level will require incorporating all the products they have available. Premixtures and combination pre-emergent/postemergent programs to control a specific weed issue will become even more common.

Jerry Corbett | Technical Services Manager, Quali-Pro

Our winters seem to be wetter and colder. And for golf course superintendents that means courses are much more susceptible to broadleaf weeds. Often, because of time and budget constraints, superintendents build weed control programs that solely depend on either a pre-emergent or only a postemergent herbicide. However, if we experience the same seasonal patterns over the next 20 years, weed control plans and budgets are going to have to be adjusted to include both pre- and post applications annually. Increased weed populations can overcome pre-emergence herbicides and may be too much of a battle to depend solely on postemergent herbicides.

Owen Towne | President, Phoenix/UPI

Herbicide use will be quite different in 20 years. Many of the phenoxy herbicides will fall by the wayside because of stricter environmental safeguards, manufacturing and formulation issues and newer chemistries. While not currently used in turfgrass, many agricultural crops have tolerance to specific herbicides via genetic modification. This allows relatively innocuous herbicides to be used in lieu of those with a more adverse profile. Lastly, the potential exists for sprayers to have “weed identification” technology (similar to face recognition software), enabling the sprayer to select the most effective product from on-board selection, both reducing costs and environmental impact.

Colleen Tocci | Marketing Manager,
Engage Agro USA

In 2034, superintendents will be using softer chemistries that work hard and are effective. Professional turf managers will continue to get requests, and in many cases requirements, from regulatory bodies and environmental groups to use products that are “kinder” to the environment, animals and human beings. Superintendents, however, are also subject to member and player demands to maintain optimum quality and playability on their courses, so they must evaluate and identify products that are effective. In many cases, superintendents will be rotating a variety of herbicide chemistries and will incorporate “softer chemistries” into their traditional herbicide programs.

Dave Loecke | Herbicide Product Manager,
PBI-Gordon Corp.

In 20 years I suspect golf courses will likely have access to some of the traditional chemistries that have been around for decades. Many of these chemistries have been proven and will continue to be very effective. I suspect there will be new solutions to solve some tough weed problems such asPoa annua in greens, doveweed, etc. One of the challenges might be availability of new products or even some existing products because of increased pressure on regulators from special interest groups and their attempts to ban pesticides. The next 20 years will be very interesting.

George Furrer | Director of U.S. Specialty Business, SipcamAdvan

A combination of new active ingredients combined with advanced formulation technology. Although the discovery and development of new herbicide actives will probably not match the number and pace of the last 20 years, there are plenty of concepts being tested every day that will yield more effective product options. The same could be said of formulation technology. So, with science, technology, and an inherent need for innovation on our side, superintendents will have herbicide choices that are the result of new active ingredient discovery, new formulation technology, or in many cases both.

Dean Mosdell | Western Field Technical Manager, Syngenta

In the future you will likely see weed control products that use a natural process for controlling gene expression in plants. Since pests differ in their DNA/RNA sequences, RNA interference technology can directly control only selected weed species or species groups. Additionally, uncovering naturally derived active ingredients like mesotrione, which is from the callistemon plant, will help in the fight against weed resistance. Resistance is an ongoing concern, which is why we are committed to finding new modes of action and unique technologies to help break the resistance cycle.

A Glimpse into the Future

  • Many of the older products currently on the market will remain because of their effectiveness.
  • Superintendents will continue to rely on both pre-emergent and postemergent herbicides for weed control.
  • Weed resistance and shifts will continue, and the need to incorporate additional active ingredients and modes of action will only increase.
  • Many of the phenoxy herbicides may fall by the wayside because of stricter environmental safeguards, manufacturing and formulation issues, and newer chemistries.
  • Although the discovery and development of new herbicide actives will probably not match the number and pace of the last 20 years, there are plenty of concepts being tested every day that will yield more effective product options.