New traits coming to soybeans, says Syngenta
Corn has attracted much of the crop production buzz in recent months. But don't count out soybeans. There's plenty happening with the "miracle crop" that should attract farmers to retain soybeans in their rotations.
Last week, Syngenta hosted a media summit in which they discussed some of the new soybean technology it has coming down the pike. Much of it revolves around traits. "Similar to what has happened in corn, farmers are going to have tsunami of trait choices," says Dan Dyer, Syngenta global soya product development head, seeds.
Headlining these choices is Optimum GAT, a new glyphosate-tolerant weed control technology that's slated for the market in 2009. As part of a cross-licensing agreement with Pioneer Hi-Bred International and its parent company DuPont, Syngenta will have a global license to the Optimum GAT trait. This trait will bring excellent yield performance and give farmers more weed control options," says Dyer.
Syngenta also plants to unveil a soybean aphid resistant trait in its elite soybean varieties by 2008. "We've seen a very rapid expansion of this pest," says Dyer. "We are leading the industry in bringing varieties to market with aphid resistance."
Syngenta also aims to offer soybeans with new sources for resistance to soybean cyst nematode and phytophthora root rot within the next five years. Soybeans will also benefit by a move to push trans fats out of diets. Trans fats have been linked to coronary heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks. The Food and Drug Administration has required companies to list trans fat content on food labels since January 2006.
"Eliminating transfatty acids out of diets will have a major impact on soybeans," says Dyer.
It's spurred companies to develop soybean varieties low in linolenic acids. Most soybeans contain high levels of linolenic acid, which can break down in the presence of air, heat and light. To reduce this factor, soybean oil is often partially hydrogenated to reduce linolenic acid. Although this increases a product's shelf life and stability, it also produces trans fat.
To alleviate this, soybean breeders are developing varieties low in linolenic acid. Dyer says current low-linolenic varieties on the market have around 3% linolenic acid in their oil, compared to over 8% for conventional varieties.
"There has been good industry acceptance, but we see these varieties as only a partial solution," says Dyer. "We are focusing on ultra low linolenic oil that will be delivered in a competitive, agronomic package. The ultra-low linolenic varieties developed by Syngenta are slated to arrive on the market by 2009. The linolenic acid content contained in these oils hovers around 1%.
"The next two to three years will bring a lot of new technology to soybeans," adds Dyer. Although this means soybeans will become a more high-tech crop that will require more management, improvements in productivity and grower profitability will accompany this, says Dyer.