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6 insights from a crop science executive

Gil Gullickson 12/03/2010 @ 6:23pm Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

Lessons learned can apply on the farm


In the United States, Friedrich Berschauer could pass for any veteran businessman. In Germany, though, his position as chairman of the board of management of Bayer CropScience gave him high visibility in European agriculture.

Differences exist between the corporate boardroom and
U.S. farms. Still, situations Berschauer faced during his career with Bayer CropScience parallel some situations you encounter. Berschauer, who retired at the end of September, shared some career insights with U.S. media at Bayer CropScience’s annual press conference in Monheim, Germany, last September

* Corporate executives have 20/20 hindsight, too.

Ever pass on buying land that at the time seemed too high-priced, but 10 years later proved to have been an excellent decision? 

Well, this mimics Berschauer’s and Bayer’s initial decision to stay on the sidelines while competing chemical companies bought seed companies and launched traits in the mid-1990s to mid-2000s.

“From today’s perspective, probably Bayer should have entered this segment earlier,” says Berschauer. During the 1990s, he served on the management team of the former Bayer crop protection organization.

“At that time, I was not convinced we should enter seed and traits,” he says. “Today, I have a different opinion. But, that’s life. We should not forget that some of our competitors entering this segment had to pay a high price (for seed companies). They also had significant challenges. It was not an easy run.

“So, yes, from today’s perspective, maybe we should have started earlier,” he says. “We are catching up, we are on the right track and we have a clear strategy.”

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