At the recent agricultural show, Expoagro 2022, held in Argentina, SIGMA AGRO launched its preemergence herbicide, Terbutilazina SIGMA, a 50% SC containing the active ingredient, terbuthylazine. SIGMA AGRO has positioned the product as a substitute for atrazine, and is expected to be a good tool for controlling weeds and solving the problem of resistance.
Terbuthylazine is a selective systemic herbicide that has a board herbicidal spectrum, is low cost and has low toxicity, being mainly used on corn and other crops for controlling annual broad-leaves and grassy weeds. Terbuthylazine has an action mode similar to atrazine, but its residue period is shorter, it has no phytotoxicity and does not cause water pollution, making terbuthylazine an ideal substitute for atrazine.
Terbuthylazine was launched in the market by Syngenta in 1966, taking up a large corn market share in Europe, with its registration renewal being approved in 2012. Its main manufacturers include ADAMA, Oxon and Dow (now Corteva).
China is the major supply country of terbuthylazine in Latin America region, especially in Brazil, with the leading manufacturers Shandong Binnong Technology and Zhejiang Zhongshan Chemical.
According to China Pesticide Registration Watch, since 2018, the number of terbuthylazine registrations in China has increased significantly. As of May 2022, ICAMA granted 29 registrations, including three technical registrations all for 96% TC, which are held by three companies: Zhejiang Zhongshan Chemical Group, Chengdu Newsun and Zhanhua Guochang Fine Chemical (a wholly owned subsidiary of Shandong Binnong Technology).
Registation of terbuthylazine in CHina's ICAMA
Terbuthylazine is used primarily in mixtures, and its current mixture registrations granted by ICAMA are mainly for Nicosulfuron, Topramezone and Mesotrione. In addition, terbuthylazine is used for several ternary mixtures as per below:
Terbuthylazine+Mesotrione+Propisochlor 55% SE；
Mesotrione+Nicosulfuron+Terbuthylazine 31% OF；
Topramezone+Terbuthylazine+Nicosulfuron 30% OF；
S-metolachlor+Terbuthylazine+Mesotrione 49% SE;
Nicosulfuron+Terbuthylazine+2,4-D-ethylhexyl 33% OF.
Registered products of terbuthylazine in China's ICAMA
The OF accounts for almost half of formulations, as this type of formulation offers better crop adhesion, wettability and permeability while being less flammable and explosive, and with minimal environmental pollution. The other formulations are SC, WG and SE.
Registered formulation types of terbuthylazine in China's ICAMA
In terms of export, in 2019, besides terbuthylazine technical, China’s largest terbuthylazine formulation export was S-metolachlor 31.25%+terbuthylazine 18.75% SE, whilst the largest terbuthylazine formulation exported to South America was terbuthylazine 50% SC.
Exported formulation of terbuthylazine in China in 2019 (by value: USD, click to enlarge)
Currently, the prime Chinese manufacturer of terbuthylazine, Zhejiang Zhongshan Chemical has a capacity of around 10,000 tons while Shandong Binnong has a capacity of 7,000 tons. Zhongshan Chemical is one of the drafters of the terbuthylazine Chinese corporate standard, having been granted the EU technical equivalence.
AgroPages learned from Zhongshan Chemical, that the major terbuthylazine product exported by Zhongshan Chemical to Latin America is TC and 50% SC, with other formulations under resgitration now in Brazil. Shandong Binnong told AgroPages that besides 50% SC, their main export products also includes some mixtures of terbuthylazine and other amide herbicides.
Binnong’s Latin America manager stressed that terbuthylazine has a broad herbicidal spectrum, being more environment friendly than atrazine, with great growth potential. However, the substitution for atrazine will eventually depend on its environmental impact assessment conducted in relevant countries. Zhongshan’s manager said that the use of terbuthylazine in Brazil, which is a major agricultural market, is not yet done over a big scale, as the cost of application is relatively higher than atrazine. Moreover, farmers’ habits related to pesticide application will not change easily. Therefore, in a short run, the use of atrazine and terbuthylazine will co-exist in farmers' application plans.
So, Will terbuthylazine supersede atrazine in the Latin American market?
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