Will glyphosate be replaced by glufosinate-ammonium in China 04-05-2017

Glyphosate is still China's herbicide with the largest market share. However, bad news about human and environmental toxicity, as well as a rising number of resistant weeds have damaged the reputation. In the meanwhile, another herbicide is on its way to the top in China. glufosinate-ammonium is marked by several beneficial factors, which may elevate this herbicide as the biggest competitor to glyphosate.


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According to market intelligence firm CCM, glufosinate-ammonium is on the way to becoming the strongest competitor for glyphosate in China. Four main factors are leading the remarkable trend of glufosinate-ammonium in China, which have been analysed by CCM. The four factors are a significantly increasing registration number of glufosinate-ammonium in China, the rising number of manufacturers for this pesticide, a falling price trend is supporting market share, and finally China’s farmers are broadly accepting this herbicide on their farms.


China’s number of glufosinate-ammonium registrations is rising. At the end of March, the total number of valid registrations already counted 237. This amount is divided into 8 TK, 37 TC, and 192 glufosinate-ammonium formulations.

Looking at the registrations for glufosinate-ammonium TK, the amount has been rising continuously from 2009 to 2016. Only the year 2013 was standing out with a large number of 13 registrations, compared to one registration in 2009 and 8 in 2016.

Glufosinate-ammonium TK, on the other hand, has not seen any high fluctuations in registration during the past years. That is mainly due because there have been only 8 registrations at all.

The registration amount of formulations was the one with the largest increase during the last years. When in 2009, there have been only 2 new registrations, the number rose until 52 new registrations in 2016 and already 20 new in the beginning of 2017.

Notably, Bayer CropScience is the only foreign company with registrations for all three types. Syngenta has registrations for formulations as well.

The application area for glufosinate-ammonium, furthermore, is spreading. Besides the usage of non-cultivated land, the pesticide can also be used on tea gardens, citrus orchards, coffee farms, banana fields, vineyards, vegetable fields, and papaya orchards, according to CCM’s research.


The glufosinate-ammonium capacity has surpassed 30,000 tonnes per year. This significant growth is mainly due to increased efforts of more players in this industry to take part in the production. The two companies YONON and Lier Chemical are the leading producers currently with an annual production of 5,000 tonnes each. Lier Chemical even plans to increase the capacity to 10,000 tonnes in 2017.

However, even this amount will be surpassed by Sichuan Fuhua Agro-chemical, which is working on a project that will enable a production of 12,000 tonnes after the completion in next years. Other companies, like Jiaruimi Fine Chemical, Hebei Veyong Bio-Chemical, and Shijiazhuang Richem are also working on new production lines and expansions, to reach capacities of 600 t/a, 3,000 t/a, and 1,000 t/a respectively.


The price of glufosinate-ammonium is marked by a constant fall since the year 2014. While in 2015 the price showed an average of USD44,160 per tonne, it fell down rapidly to USD20,190 per tonne in 2016. Looking at the increasing number of players joining the industry, the price is very likely to keep falling down to some extent, which increases the demand even further.


With the high promotion of glufosinate-ammonium in recent years, the acceptance by Chinese farmers for glufosinate-ammonium is getting higher, which can be seen in China’s glufosinate-ammonium manufacturers’ performance. CCM has picked the leading companies Lier Chemical and YONON as representatives.

According to the 2016 financial figures of Lier Chemical, the pesticide sales have been USD287.65 million, up by 34.76% YoY, which should give the credit to the good sales of glufosinate-ammonium TC and formulations in 2016.

Experts say that YONON’s efforts have gained an annual sale of over USD14.54 million. The company introduced the first glufosinate ammonium formulation in 2007, which made it to the first producer in China. The first efforts were focusing on producing samples and train farmers on this new pesticide. By the year 2010, the sales volume only in China’s Guangdong province surpassed already 70 tonnes, exceeding to 300 tonnes worldwide in 2011. The significant success led to the great sales volume nowadays and has enabled a leading role of glufosinate-ammonium in China’s market.


The bespoke four factors are the reasons, why glufosinate-ammonium is likely to become a dangerous rival for glyphosate in China.

Glyphosate itself is showing some weaknesses. In general, weeds are easy to become resistant to a herbicide that has been used alone for 3-5 years. Therefore, weeds are showing serious resistance to glyphosate as it has been used for decades. Currently, some weeds like mazus japonicus, common dayflower, youngia japonica, purslane, cudweed herb, copperleaf, field bindweed and endive are largely insensitive to glyphosate. As a result,  using glyphosate formulations alone cannot effectively control and prevent them.

In fact, when glufosinate-ammonium was promoted in the market, the huge price gap between it and glyphosate was there. On the other hand, being marketed for many years, glyphosate has been accepted broadly by farmers. Therefore, this will be still an obstacle for the promotion of glufosinate-ammonium.


Glufosinate-ammonium is a herbicide, which is used to control weeds in over 100 different crops. Farmers are using glufosinate-ammonium mainly, because it is known to have a good degree of crop safety, as it only affects the parts of the plant where it is applied. The pesticide is useable against a wide range of weeds. Its unique mode of action makes it ideal to be used in rotation with other herbicides to mitigate weed resistance.


About CCM

CCM is the leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets.


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