The Refuge Management Game Is Evolving

Prairie Gleanings

In a year or two, your refuge management system will probably be out dated.

Published on: August 19, 2009

Regardless of how you're currently managing refuge on your farm, I'm willing to bet you'll be using an entirely different system within the next couple years.


Two big seed companies, Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred, are working to change the game. Recently, Monsanto received approval for SmartStax' reduced refuge from 20% to 5%. In 2010, SmartStax will be available for approximately 3 to 4 million acres.


The science behind the refuge reduction deals with multiple modes of action. University of Illinois entomologist Mike Gray says multiple cryoproteins will act against pests, reducing the chance they'd become resistant to any one cryoprotein. If you want to talk brands, SmartStax couples Dow AgroSciences' Herculex traits along with Monsanto's Genuity Triple Pro traits for insect protection.


Pioneer's AcreMax1 system will also change refuge management, but in a much different manner. Here's how it works.


On 80% of their acreage, farmers plant Herculex XTRA, which protects against corn rootworm and corn borer. In that same bag, Pioneer will include a low percentage of Herculex I, a hybrid with corn borer protection but without corn rootworm protection. Thus, the corn rootworm refuge is sporadically spaced throughout the field. On the other 20%, farmers will plant a Herculex RW hybrid, which protects against corn rootworm, but not corn borer.


Another AcreMax1 option includes planting Herculex XTRA hybrids (both corn rootworm and corn borer protection) with a low percentage Herculex I (corn borer only) in the same bag on 80% of your acreage. Then, the farmer can plant a conventional or herbicide-tolerant hybrid up to half a mile away, which serves as the 20% refuge.


Thus far, Pioneer is still waiting for regulatory approval for the AcreMax1 system.


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