Herbicide trials provide pre-market insights

InnoTech Alberta researchers collect data to see what products and tank mixes work best before they go to market

VEGREVILLE, Alta. — Researchers with InnoTech Alberta are deliberately creating weedy messes to figure out what herbicides and tank mixes are doing the best job.

The program, located in Vegreville, is a necessary step before new products are approved by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Lots of data is compiled to ensure herbicides meet requirements.

“It takes about eight to 10 years to get a product registered, so it does take a lot of time,” said Dean Kupchenko, a research technician at the InnoTech facility, following a tour earlier this summer.

InnoTech partners with companies for the program. Kupchenko explained the companies reach out to it prior to the trials. InnoTech then selects the trials it would like to do.

Once the trials are approved by the company, he said researchers will know products they should spray, what crops will be receiving the treatment and what weeds to target. Researchers will then seed crops with weeds and create volunteer scenarios.

“We have everything coming at once and we have a big weedy mess,” he said.

Kupchenko said researchers test new products that aren’t on the market yet, as well as different tank mixes that haven’t been previously explored.

If they notice the product is injuring crops at a rate that’s greater than 10 percent, then he said it’s likely unacceptable for it to be adopted.

“That would put into question if that product could be carried forward because it’s too damaging to the crop.”

All the data that InnoTech collects on the products isn’t released publicly. Kupchenko said the companies retain ownership over the information.

This year, he said, InnoTech is working with three companies for 24 different trials. As well, other research groups are doing similar work to test products before they get approved.

“Everybody has data to contribute, building this giant pool of information to evaluate whether or not a product can meet the requirements to be passed,” he said. “They need to collect data over several years and over several sites.”

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