Nowadays, lawn care operators are incredibly focused on efficiency. As a result, chemical manufacturers know that products which improve efficiency are highly desirable. Research has been focused on products that get the job done with fewer applications – and with less active ingredients.
One such new product coming to the market is Hydretain Myco from Ecologel Solutions. According to the company’s agronomist, Jim Spindler, the Hydretain by itself is a unique product. The chemistry is designed to reduce watering requirements of plants and turf using a patented blend of liquid humectant and hygroscopic compounds, which attract free water molecules from the air.
“Hydretain condenses humidity out of the air and helps reduce water usage,” Spindler says. “With the Myco component, the product will help plants take the water even better. This will be beneficial in both areas of drought where there may be water restrictions as well as areas where water is really expensive. With this product, LCOs will still be able to maintain a quality turf, despite challenging conditions.” The newly improved Hydretain is on its way to the marketplace soon along with a number of other products on the horizon.
Insecticides and fungicides. There are several new products recently released or coming down the pipeline in the insecticide/fungicide market. One of those – Caravan G from Syngenta – is a combination insecticide/fungicide granular product that allows for control of both turf insects and diseases in one application. “Caravan G helps eliminate the guesswork of pest problems since it controls the most common lawn insect and disease pests such as white grubs, chinch bugs, sod webworms and ants,” says Matt Giese, M.S. Midwest field technical manager for Syngenta. “It is compatible with many rotary spreaders and is an effective way to improve route efficiency and offer opportunities for add-on fungicide sales.”
Lebanon Pro 17-0-3 40% SCU 3% Fe .225 Allectus can also save time and labor with the ability to treat multiple insect pests in a single application, says Christopher S. Gray, Sr., product marketing manager – professional products. “This unique combination of imidacloprid and bifenthrin provides control of a wide-range of insects from Black ataenius, European chafer and imported fire ants to billbugs, armyworms and cutworms in athletic fields, parks, residential, commercial, industrial, institutional and recreational lawns.”
Todd Mayhew, field development manager for Valent USA Corp., says that getting “quick control” has always been the biggest challenge in treating insects. And as more of the population becomes environmentally conscious – and regulations impose increasing restrictions – there is the added challenge of achieving that quick control with fewer active ingredients. Recently, Valent’s insecticide product Arena has been further researched on its ability to control white grubs. Researchers have found the product is successful with 95 percent less active ingredient and without requiring watering in. “Past products have required watering in and people and pets were not able to be on the turf until the product dried,” Mayhew says. “But Arena is a more user-friendly product in terms of re-entry and watering requirements.”
Like insect infestations, LCOs want to get fast control over turf and ornamental disease before too much damage is done. Effective control often includes preventative maintenance programs. ENCLAVE, a fungicide from Quali-Pro, helps control major turf and ornamental diseases including brown patch, snow mold, powdery mildew and blight. “Quali-Pro’s ENCLAVE fungicide is a powerful new weapon in the war on fungal diseases for both turf and ornamentals,” says Jerry Corbett, product management and development manager. “ENCLAVE fungicide offers disease protection and prevention on your turf and ornamentals through unforeseen stresses all season long. Preventative programs save you money by correcting issues before they start.”
Adjuvants also fall into the category of assisting with efficient control. Direct Solutions recently introduced LI 700, a three-in-one spray adjuvant which delivers multifunctional purposes as a surfactant, water acidifier and penetrant that enhances the performance of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and plant-growth regulators. “LI 799 has demonstrated excellent plant safety while increasing pesticide and nutritional product performance for professional turf managers and ornamental growers,” says Bob Raley, agronomist for Direct Solutions. “It maximizes penetration into the plant with quick uptake through the waxy layer of foliage. This maintains the integrity of the plant’s protective layer and greatly reduces burn potential.”
Pre-emergent and herbicides. A number of new herbicides are also in the works. ChangeUp, a new herbicide offering from Nufarm will be available next year and is a premium broadleaf herbicide labeled for control of more than 200 weed species. It can be used on all major cool-season turf types. “We’re excited about the potential for ChangeUp,” says Rick Fletcher, technical service manager for Nufarm. “It provides excellent weed control like our premium three-way Escalade 2, but allows users the option to use MCPA in any 2, 4-D sensitive areas.”
Specticle plus Fertilizer is a pre-emergent herbicide from Bayer which provides lawn care managers up to six months of broad-spectrum control at what the company says will be the industry’s lowest use rates. “Specticle plus Fertilizer saves time, fuel and labor costs by reducing the number of treatments needed to achieve optimal results, making it one of the most effective tools in any lawn care manager’s arsenal,” says Jeff Michel, herbicides business manager. “The goal of every lawn care manager is to do it right the first time, and this product allows them to prevent weeds and not have to go back and re-treat.”
The product is available in a number of formulations. Specticle had already been on the market with a sprayable option, allowing LCOs to mix with liquid and apply to the lawn. Specticle G was recently launched for beds. “Now the newest product – Specticle plus Fertilizer – allows lawn care managers to apply Specticle along with fertility and get a single pass around the property,” Michel says. “The product has a lot of flexibility and now it also has the efficiency of combining fertilizer plus weed control.”
Flexibility is definitely important to LCOs these days. Another product from Valent, Safeguard, offers the flexibility of applying pre-emergent later in the season. “Poa Annua can take hold and grow in Bermuda grass over the winter,” Mayhew says. “But you used to have to make the decision to manage the weeds back in August or September, before Poa even germinated. Sureguard allows the flexibility from the time grass goes dormant through February to manage weeds. If you were treating Bermuda grass in November or December you’d still be able to effectively control Poa that emerged while also providing residual control.”
LCOs are also looking for efficiency when it comes to herbicide products. Tenacity herbicide, released by Syngenta, offers both selective pre-emergence and post-emergence control of 46 broadleaf and grassy weeds in cool-season turf. “For example, Tenacity can control emerged crabgrass,” Giese says. “At the same time, residual soil activity will keep new crabgrass from germinating. Tenacity works by affecting chlorophyll production and photosynthesis so weeds and undesirable grasses are eliminated. You can actually see Tenacity working. Weeds are bleached white prior to death. It’s a unique product allowing use prior to or at seeding to prevent weed germination yet permitting newly seeded turf to flourish.”
Alan Whitney, turf agronomist for Agrium Advanced Technologies adds that the Spread it & Forget it with Dimension Specialty Herbicide and Spread it & Forget it with Barricade Pre-Emergent Herbicide will also assist LCOs with efficiency.
The move brings together three of the green industry’s manufacturers, offering end-users a single-application fertilizer solution infused with either Barricade Pre-Emergent Herbicide or Dimension Specialty Herbicide.
“Working with premium technologies like Barricade and Dimension – and premium manufacturers like Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences – ensures high quality you’ve come to expect from Spread it & Forget it,” Whitney says.
Spread it & Forget it with either Barricade or Dimension in the fertilizer granule allows LCOs to fertilize once up to every six months. “The level of efficiency also allows LCOs to perform extra tasks on-site or to finish up on a job site and move on to the next site more quickly,” Whitney says.