Crop Nutrition

Meristem’s New GUARD X™ EPA-approved For BIO-CAPSULE™ Seed Fluency Delivery System

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29 May 2024, Columbus: GUARD X, the first-ever EPA-approved corn rootworm biological to be delivered to the furrow through the patented BIO-CAPSULE™ Technology seed fluency system, was officially released here today by Meristem Crop Performance. With GUARD X, farmers now have an easy-to-use alternative to paying more money for expensive trait stacks and costly, difficult to handle insecticides.

“This is a fully integrated planter box system to provide a new mode of action for farmers to overcome corn rootworm resistance, guard those roots, and do it in a convenient, cost-effective way,” said Mitch Eviston in making the announcement. “We’ll get this on 200,000 acres this spring and that’s going to save those farmers about $2 million. It’s another step in bringing real productivity to American farmers and helping them raise more bushels at a lower per unit cost of production.”

In recent years resistance of corn rootworm to traits has increased and insect pressure has risen. For growers, making a wrong bet can mean big losses: corn rootworm damage, yield loss and mitigation is costing American farmers about $1 billion annually according to the USDA.

“Farmers need a way to fight back against resistant rootworms, but they don’t want to go back to having in-furrow insecticide kits on their planters,” says Shane Brockhoff, regional director for Meristem based in Iowa. “GUARD X provides a new mode of action for less than $14 per acre that provides what they need to help protect their corn from corn rootworm damage.”

GUARD X Corn Rootworm (CRW) Management + Root Regeneration provides a new means to guard roots from CRW larvae. GUARD X induces the plant’s genes to trigger production of natural defense root exudates that confuse CRW larvae, so they move away from the root. As part of defense mechanism, biological activity also promotes root regrowth if a larva does cause damage.

“I’ve spent years and years working with products to control corn rootworm,” says Eviston. “With

GUARD X, we’ve got a naturally occurring treatment that we can deliver to the furrow that repels the larvae from the root zone, without any downside pesticide risk. We are the only ones able to deliver truly effective biocontrol because our patented BIO-CAPSULE seed fluency delivery system protects these beneficial microbes right up to their point of impact.”

“Resistance is getting worse every year,” says Brockhoff. “First they (CRW) became resistant to the single trait, then to stacked traits, and now farmers are using that new RNAi trait technology, but it’s expensive and still may not be enough.” Farmers facing CRW problems, says Brockhoff, are trying to figure out how to deal with it and GUARD X provides a better alternative than going back to harsh chemistry delivered through an insecticide system on a planter.

“You get it wrong on corn rootworm and you see poor root establishment, poor yields, and poor bottom lines,” says John Tiarks, who farms 1,300 acres and operates Midline, LLC, a seed and feed business, with his wife Karrie near Underwood, Iowa.  “GUARD X is just going to provide us a little more insurance, to make sure we get to the right finish line in this tight margin environment.”

Tiarks says corn rootworm damage, along with having the wrong trait in the wrong place, can cost a grower 30 to 40 bushel. “Hey, even with lower grain prices, that’s a pile of money,” he says. “If it’s the right hybrid for the soil, let’s put GUARD X with it, add that protection and get it up out of the ground fast. That’s going to be phenomenal for customers as far as being able to better maximize hybrid performance on an acre.”  WATCH JOHN TIARKS HERE.

Meristem’s GUARD X is a biological pesticide that uses a unique strain of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria known as pink pigmented facultative methylotrophs (PPFMs) which protect the root zone and mitigate corn rootworm feeding damage. Veteran biologicals expert Chris Thrasher, Meristem’s Director of Innovation and Product Management, says the future will be about pairing biologicals like these effectively with EPA-approved chemistry, and he says only Meristem can deliver full strength biologicals alongside those other active ingredients.

“Our patented BIO-CAPSULE microbial delivery system provides the one and only way to keep these microbes vigorous all the way to their end use,” explains Thrasher, “and that’s going to make a big difference when it comes to fighting these tough pests, especially when they’ve built up resistance.”

Meristem’s GUARD X launch comes on the heels of EPA’s approval of the company’s METALAXYL ST for delivery on soybeans through the BIO-CAPSULE system, where it can be used effectively with  biocontrol, PREPHYTE ST™ for control of soil-borne threats such as Pythium, Pytophthora and Fusarium. Eviston says GUARD X is another such innovation bringing better control and convenience to those seeking more flexibility and a better ROI (return on investment) in corn production.

At Meristem, Mitch Eviston explains, bringing this sort of innovation that cuts waste and brings real productivity to farmers is key to the fast growth of the company. He ticks off several examples:

  • “Compared to the common synthetic 10-34-0 liquid starter, UPSHIFT® C can save farmers up to 50 percent and reduce the waste of diesel fuel by others hauling water.”
  • “With our AQUADRAFT® C, you can mix your own best-in-class adjuvant – you can make it for $5/gallon and have it ready when you need to use it.”
  • “On your residue, our EXCAVATOR® can help you release the NPK you already paid for and do it in time for the next crop you plant. There’s $200 worth of NPK in every acre after you harvest a 200-bushel corn crop – you can save up to 30 percent on your fertilizer spend.”

“We are at work to come alongside those locally owned farm businesses to help them cut waste and raise more bushels at a lower per unit cost,” explains John Gertz, Meristem Chief Operating Officer. “Being able to deliver powerful biology and chemistry together through the BIO-CAPSULE without injuring either ingredient – that’s a big win for farmers and the environment.” He says it’s also a part of revitalizing rural America.

“Things that once were only the domain of national distributors and giant retailers now can be effectively applied at the local level by next generation farm businesses,” he says. “Independent, local businesses know their neighbors, their land, and their challenges far better than those a thousand miles away.”

Also Read: Sharbati Wheat of Madhya Pradesh Still Fetching Highest Bid in Market

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