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What’s up at Monsanto
Earlier this month, Monsanto invited agricultural media members to tour its Chesterfield, Missouri, research site. Here’s a look at some of the products and methods it uses to help you better grow crops.
Farmers are increasingly using seed treatments to protect seeds and seedlings against early-season and insects. Mike Migliazzo, Monsanto seed treatment scientist, discussed Monsanto’s Acceleron seed treatments for corn and soybeans.
Seed treatments fend off early season stressors for 35 to 45 days, says Migliazzo. This helps get plants get off to a good start, and particularly aids seeds and seedlings in a cold and damp spring like 2013, he adds.
Phytophthora root rot (PRR) is a devastating soybean disease, says Leigh Ann Harrison, a Monsanto soybean pathologist. Genetic resistance is one way to deter this disease. Genetic resistance gives 100% resistance against a specific race.
There can be numerous Phytophthora races in a field, though. It’s impossible to provide 100% resistance against all races present in a field. That’s why Monsanto scientists equip soybean varieties with PRR field tolerance. This provides partial protection against all races in a field, and enable a soybean variety to still yield satisfactorily.
The firm’s plant breeders use the Monsanto Seed Chipper to product top performing soybean varieties, says Alejandro Hernandez, a Monsanto soybean breeder. Scientists use the seed chipper to remove a small chip from each soybean seed. This preserves the seed’s future ability to grow, while giving scientists a chance to analyze the chip’s DNA in a genotyping lab. The chip enables breeders to determine which characteristics the plant will have at maturity.
Besides ensuring greater success early in varietal development stage, it enables new genetic innovations to hit farmers’ fields two year faster than traditional breeding methods allow.
Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is a major soybean pest that can slice yields up to 40%, says Susannah Cooper, a Monsanto nematologist. There can be up to 400 SCN eggs in a cyst that hatch in a soybean root.