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Selontra: Rodent Control & BASF’s Effort in Minimalizing Environmental Impact


Hans Athaide, Msc(Hons), Professional and Specialty, Solutions ASEAN

A 21 year veteran of the industry, Hans has previously held positions in research and development and regulatory affairs prior to assuming a commercial role


He is currently the Business Manager of the Professional and Specialty Solutions business in ASEAN, which includes Oil Palm, Forestry, Professional Pest Control, Public Health, Turf and Ornamentals


1. BASF supports the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and market transformation towards a certified product. Do share with us BASF's progress in this aspect.

In 2021, we published our fifth progress report – the BASF Palm Progress Report – for greater transparency in the value chain. Based on our voluntary commitment to sustainably source palm oil products, we purchased 227,213 metric tons of certified palm kernel oil and palm oil in 2020. This represents 100% of our total volume (completely/100%) as RSPO certified.


BASF also continues to drive forward the RSPO supply chain certification of our sites for cosmetic ingredients. In 2020, 25 production sites worldwide were RSPO certified. At the same time, we will step up our efforts to improve transparency and traceability in the supply chain. We can trace almost 95 of our overall oil palm exposure back to the oil mill level in 2020 - totaling 441.107 metric tons.


On top of these achievements, BASF published and enhanced Palm Sourcing Policy as well as our Forest Positioning. In 2020, BASF also participated for the first time in CDP Forest, which resulted in A-.


2. Selontra contains cholecalciferol in a highly palatable bait matrix that can control rats and mice. What was the main driving force behind this innovation? And how long did BASF take to come out with such a formulation?

Selontra is a result of more than a decade of research and development. Our driving force was a clear market need for an innovative, palatable and effective bait that did not rely on anticoagulants – given their many disadvantages. After screening and testing over 1,200 different possible candidates over 10 years, cholecalciferol was identified as the best candidate for a new rodenticide active ingredient – as it offered a unique mode of action (hypercalcemia), short time to death, and reduced environmental impact. However, a highly palatable bait matrix was required to transform cholecalciferol into an effective rodenticide bait. It took a team of biologists and formulation chemists three years to develop the right formulation for Selontra. But the result speaks for itself.


Selontra

3. Could you share with us some of the users of Selontra in this region for the palm oil industry?

While we can’t share any names due to customer privacy, several large plantation operators have successfully integrated Selontra into their rodent management program with excellent results.


4.Describe 'Speed Baiting', which is one of the unique features of Selontra. How does it differ from other products of rodenticides?

Selontra’s extremely high palatability and fast stop-feeding effect mean that plantation mangers can control even large rodent populations within 7 days with just a single application of 1 bait block per tree (though in cases of very high infestations, an additional application may be needed). This means that Selontra can control infestations in as little as 1 -2 applications. In comparison, other rodenticides often require 4-8 applications to get effective control – resulting in a need for additional bait and labor, and more damage of oil palm fruit due to slower control of the infestation.


With the unique chemistry and palatability of Selontra, plantations can reduce the amount of bait and the number of applications needed to control rodent infestations, which saves valuable time and money and reduces yield loss.


Selontra has minimal impact on non-targets, especially barn owls that are natural predators of rodents. This makes it aligned with the RSPO principles of Integrated Rodent Pest Management using natural predators of rodents.


Oil Palm Malaysia

5. Please share with us how BASF caters their products to a different group of clients, especially smallholders. Would they be able to benefit from this and its affordability?

Selontra is available to farmers both large and small. All producers value protecting their yield from rodent damage. In addition, when you factor in labor costs/time savings and increased yield, Selontra is more cost-effective than the current anticoagulant baits used by smallholders. We’re working to help educate the market – including smallholders – on how to use Selontra effectively so that they can increase their yields, reduce costs, and ultimately boost their income.


6. It’s not often that we see BASF involved in the palm oil industry, are there other new products lined up with regards to pest management besides Selontra as BASF makes its foray into the industry?

BASF has a wide portfolio of products for the oil palm market – which includes herbicides and insecticides, in addition to rodenticides like Selontra . Our main objective is to help oil palm planters produce more from their existing plantations. Our products help farmers in reducing the number of agrochemicals being applied in the environment, reduce labor costs, and protect their yield.


For the future, we have a pipeline of long-lasting herbicides which have the potential to improve labor productivity and reduce applications that are planned for launch in Indonesia in the coming years.

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