A WA-based chemical company is continuing its long-running battle to have a new pre-emergent annual ryegrass herbicide registered.
Last week 4Farmers managing director Phil Patterson and general manager Neil Mortimore met with Gharda, the world's biggest manufacturer of isoproturon, looking at ways to have the herbicide registered for use in Australia.
Isoproturon is a selective herbicide which is effective on controlling barley grass, silver grass and annual ryegrass as well as some broadleaf weeds.
However Mr Patterson said if registered in Australia its desired use would be for controlling ryegrass in cereal crops.
He said getting the herbicide registered in Australia had been a long-held passion and Gharda has attempted to have the product registered four times since 1996.
"I farm in the ryegrass capital of Australia (Gnowangerup) and there have more sheep deaths from ryegrass toxicity in Gnowangerup than anywhere else, it is a big problem," Mr Patterson said.
Isoproturon is the same chemical which led to Mr Patterson being fined and convicted in 1999 for illegally importing 250 kilograms of an isoproturon herbicide.
Despite this Mr Patterson said he imported more of the herbicide a couple of years ago under a trial permit to test its efficacy, which he said more than stacked up against other herbicides such as propyzamide, which is used in canola.
Mr Mortimore said isoproturon worked similar to diuron as it was in the same chemical mode of action group but was "far superior" and more efficacious on ryegrass.
If registration was successful Mr Mortimore said the costs of applying isoproturon would be "moderate but very competitive" against other ryegrass herbicide alternatives.
"It would might not be as cheap as trifluralin but it would still be cheaper than a lot of other proprietary products out there now and as effective," he said.
Isoproturon is registered and used in New Zealand and India.
Up until September year it was used in Europe however it has since been banned, along with amitrole, due to studies indicating it could cause cancer, infertility and foetal abnormalities.
Mr Mortimore said while the recent ban in Europe could influence the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA) not to consider a registration for Australia, it could be a valuable tool for farmers to control ryegrass.
"I don't doubt the value and the efficacy of isoproturon - it would provide farmers with another very good alternative for ryegrass control," he said.
"However, due to what has happened in Europe the APVMA will require further studies because it is new chemistry in Australia and it will require a lot of work to get it registered.
"Phil is certainly giving this every effort and that tenacity and effort that he is putting into it is typical of 4Farmers fighting for Australian farmers and giving them not only cheaper chemicals but try to give them more alternatives."