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Overwatch® Herbicide showing early signs of performing in the Murray Mallee


Creation date: 07 September 2021


Overwatch® Herbicide from Agricultural Sciences Company FMC is a pre-emergent herbicide option for the control of Annual ryegrass and control and suppression of a wide range of other grass and broadleaf weeds in Wheat, Barley and Canola.

 

Classified as a Group Q mode of action, Overwatch® provides Australian growers with a unique tool in the fight against herbicide resistant weeds. As part of an integrated weed management program, it assists in slowing down the development of further herbicide resistance.

 

In 2020, Pinnaroo farmer Darren Handreck was looking ahead to next season when he trialed eight hectares of Planet barley with FMC’s newly launched pre-emergent herbicide. Fast forward to July 2021, and the only surprises associated with the commercial-scale use of a new product Mr Handreck has witnessed so far have been welcome ones

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“Last year we trialed it in one of our cleaner paddocks, including comparing it to another pre-emergent on the market, and while the barley treated with Overwatch® did bleach, when you walked through it later you couldn’t pick any colour difference or damage at all,” Mr Handreck said.  

 

“In fact, in the end I was surprised to see that it yielded better.”

 

The other surprise for the Murray Mallee farmer was the duration of weed control. Overwatch® Herbicide has long-lasting residual control making it very effective on later germinating weeds. Up to 12 weeks control of a wide range of species has been demonstrated.

“We certainly got a longer control of weeds,” Mr Handreck said. “At about 16 weeks we had a walk through and we were still getting ryegrass coming up then that was turning pink. It absolutely blew my mind to see that it was working for so long.”

 

Armed with clear evidence, and support from both his local agronomist and FMC Technical Extension Specialist Stephen Fischer, Mr Handreck was confident to conduct a “reverse trial” this year on a much larger 60-hectare block of Compass barley.

 

“Look, I was that impressed with last year I decided I was going to do what I call a ‘reverse trial’ this year,” he said. “So, I picked my dirtiest paddock, and treated around 80% of it with Overwatch®, and the remaining 20% with another (pre-emergent). There is definitely a colour change between the two (products), but I’ve got a lot better control on weeds with Overwatch®. 

 

“I’ve had people say to me, jeez what did you spray your paddock with, it looks stuffed. But I said, no no she’ll be right, it’ll come back.”

 

Mr Handreck’s confidence and ability to back his judgment was bolstered by working closely with his agronomist and FMC’s Fischer, so expectations on bleaching and other outcomes were managed.   “Because they (agronomist and Fischer) really drummed that into me, I knew it was going to bleach before I put it out the first time,” he said

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“Steven came up to me and thanked me for doing this trial work. He said, ‘before we put anything out this is how the chemical works, this is what you’re going to see, you’re likely going to see your crops go yellow, you might think it’s terrible, but trust me it’ll come back’.”

 

And it was only when they’d finished weighing the truck off and the samples of Overwatch® -treated and untreated were compared, that Fischer told him that it generally yields better than anything else.  “He wasn’t going to tell me that upfront; he basically just wanted me to be surprised!”

 

Surprises aside, it’s all about managing expectations, which extends to acknowledging the new and innovative chemistry that FMC has brought to the market with Overwatch® Herbicide.

 

“It’s the first of its kind apparently. And while bringing such a unique product to market will naturally have some challenges in the first full season, it’s a great new solution for growers,” Handreck said.

“I’ve heard people complaining about the yellow. I’m not an expert on it by a long shot, but if you know what to expect, then your reaction is a little bit different.”

 

Soils on the property are lighter sandy loam, with some patches of heavier clay and also non-wetting sands. It’s the non-wetting types that Mr Handreck is focused on with Overwatch® Herbicide, given the extended weed control.

 

“With the non-wetting soils, you can get very late germination at times, so you the need the longer weed control duration, which is why I wanted to use Overwatch®. It’s been more than 15 weeks since I applied it and it’s still giving a result.”

 

It’s perhaps because of the solid learnings already gleaned, that the local agronomist is keen to showcase the use of Overwatch® Herbicide with a crop walk at Handreck’s property (and other farmers in the district).

 

“It’s (Overwatch®) a very popular product at the moment, and so we want to demonstrate that it has worked so far; then the group can inspect the crops later in the season to see the progress,” Handreck says.

 

“We’ll see how it goes, but at this stage it’s doing brilliantly.”

 

     

One of the unique features of Overwatch® Herbicide can be seen in the way ryegrass reacts to the chemical, August 2021

 

 

 Darren Handreck, Compass barley treated with Overwatch® Herbicide turning Ryegrass a striking shade of magenta, August 2021


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