Australia’s reputation for excellence in agricultural innovation, rigorous regulatory approval process, and standing as one of the largest food exporters in the world spurred global agricultural sciences company FMC to pick it as the launch market for a game-changing herbicide.

US-based agricultural sciences company FMC is leading the charge in the war against annual ryegrass – a major weed threatening crop production in Australia – with an innovative pre-emergent solution called Overwatch® Herbicide, powered by Isoflex™ active.

Australian grain growers will be the first in the world to access the herbicide, thanks to the approval of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). Overwatch®, which will be available for the 2021 winter cropping season, is the first blockbuster crop protection product to be released by FMC globally in over 15 years.

‘FMC has been consistently impressed with the very high standards within the Australian regulatory review and approval process,’ says Managing Director ANZ–FMC Australasia, Kristina Hermanson. ‘It is rigorous, but so efficient relative to other regions around the world.’

The overall cost of weeds to Australian grain growers has been estimated at A$3 billion annually, with annual ryegrass being one of the most significant pain points. On top of that, many weeds in Australia continue to develop resistance to commonly used herbicides.

‘Overwatch® is a breakthrough in annual ryegrass control,’ says Hermanson. ‘It is the only isoxazolidinone pre-emergent herbicide that can be used for three key winter crops – wheat, barley and canola – providing farmers with more flexibility for crop rotations, while delivering up to 12 weeks’ residual control. It has also proven to be effective against weeds such as silvergrass, bifora, sowthistle, hogweed and lesser loosestrife, making it an excellent fit in many Australian paddocks.’

Australia’s commitment to agricultural innovation, rapid adoption of new crop management practices, and cohort of talented agricultural practitioners made it the ideal launchpad for Isoflex™ active and Overwatch®.

Australia’s counter-seasonality to the northern hemisphere means FMC can develop and trial solutions all year round, typically achieving two seasons’ trials in the one calendar year. Another advantage is Australia’s diverse microclimates, which mimic environmental conditions in different regions and countries.

Hermanson contends that Australians are leaders in agronomic practices, an upshot of being one of the largest food exporters in the world.

‘There is a great talent pool in Australia that FMC can draw from to build a team with unique expertise in plant science and agronomy, a passion for success and an innovative spirit at heart.’

FMC also sees significant value in Australia’s network of free trade agreements to support diverse export pathways for its high-quality horticulture and grain products.

The company has completed a multimillion-dollar upgrade of its chemical plant in Wyong in the Central Coast region. The facility already formulates and packages the majority of FMC's locally registered products and is geared up for the production of Overwatch®.