Within 45 days of planting in 2013, worms began their yearly chewing on Eduardo Kurilo’s 2,900 acres of soybeans in São Luiz Gonzaga in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Southern Brazil. The worms eat the leaves, stalks and flowers of the plants, which can severely impact a farmer’s crop if left unattended.
Typically, Kurilo would turn to multiple insecticide applications to kill the worms, including the species Helicoverpa armigera. But this year, on more than half of his acres, he didn’t have to spray during those first 45 days. On those acres, he planted INTACTA RR2 PRO™ soybeans, a new product that has been genetically modified with a gene that allows the soybean plant to protect itself against the worms.
“The expectation of harvest for this year is good because we have not suffered with worms in the area of INTACTA RR2 PRO,” said Kurilo, who noted that his other soybean acres had to be sprayed three times to control the worms in the 45-day span. “We are happy about this first result with the new technology of Monsanto.”
With harvest approaching, Kurilo and other farmers are excited to see the results of this first season of planting INTACTA RR2 PRO soybeans. INTACTA RR2 PROTM soybean is the first biotechnology product developed especially for a market outside the United States. After 11 years of research and field trials, the soybeans hit the market for sale in July 2013.
INTACTA RR2 PROTM soybeans combine three benefits in one product:
- Protection against the major worms that attack soybeans, such as velvetbean caterpillar, soybean looper, soybean budborer and suppression of lesser cornstalk borer and Helicoverpa armigera
- Increased yield potential; and
- Tolerance to glyphosate herbicide with the Roundup Ready 2 Yield® trait technology.
In Formosa do Rio Preto, much of the total area cultivated by the farmer Eduardo Manjabosco is in final stage of development. He planted more than 1,200 acres of INTACTA RR2 PRO soybeans. He says that the new technology has helped reduce the number of worms in the field.
“So far, we have not made any insecticide application” to INTACTA RR2 PRO soybeans, said Manjabosco. However, his soybeans without INTACTA RR2 PRO technology have received one application.
He also noted that, in the same period last year, when INTACTA RR2 PRO soybeans were not available, pest infestation was much more intense. “We got to point of applying insecticide on Roundup Ready soybeans (without the INTACTA RR2 PRO technology) five times, and yet the pest destroyed much of the farm.”
According to data from a Brazil consulting agency, the average number of foliar applications with insecticide for the control of worms in soybean crops in Brazil increased from 3.6 applications per 2.5 acres in the 2010-11 season to 4.6 applications per 2.5 acres in the 2012-13 crop season. This led to an increase of 107 percent in the cost per acre of insecticide in two years.
Integrated pest management is an important part of the introduction of this product. Monsanto and other third-party agronomists recommend at least a 20 percent refuge for non-INTACTA RR2 PRO soybeans. Following this practice will help with the long-term durability and effectiveness of the product for farmers.
“Besides causing defoliation on soybean plants, the Helicoverpa pest causes direct damage by feeding on the productivity of flowers and pods,” said Geraldo Berger, Regulatory Director at Monsanto. “The results of suppression of Helicoverpa delivered by INTACTA RR2 PRO technology for soybeans bring a very optimistic outlook for Brazilian farmers, helping fight this pest and effectively contributing to integrated pest management in soybeans crops.”