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New Plains research center will focus on water utilization

Agriculture.com Staff 06/16/2009 @ 2:57pm

Water is a vital element in the production of food. Helping farmers better manage water utilization for crops is the focus of Monsanto Company's Water Utilization Learning Center, which opened this week in Gothenburg, Nebraska.

The Water Utilization Learning Center, the first of its kind in agriculture, is designed for studying cropping systems, including genetics, agronomic practices and biotech traits like water-use efficiency technologies such as drought-tolerant cropping systems. The center, according to a company report, will help Monsanto advance research to help improve farmers' productivity in the western Great Plains while gaining a better understanding of water use by crops. More than 80 cropping and irrigation demonstrations are featured at the 155-acre farm and learning center.

"Water is a major factor in agriculture production," says Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley. "In any given year, 10 million to 13 million acres of farmland planted to corn in the United States may be affected by at least moderate drought, and every crop acre faces some degree of water stress at some point in the growing season.

"Our upcoming drought-tolerant crop technologies represent one potential tool for addressing the challenge of water utilization, while ensuring greater sustainability and production within agriculture," he adds.

In addition to crop and irrigation demonstrations, the facility includes three conference rooms that will be equipped with state-of-the-art videoconferencing capabilities. The center will be hardwired to eventually conduct virtual tours of robotics and seed analytics facilities in remote locations such as Monsanto's breeding facility in Ankeny, Iowa, or the company's Chesterfield, Missouri, research facility, for example. The site also includes a 20,000 square foot breeding station and a smaller building to dry corn.

Water is a vital element in the production of food. Helping farmers better manage water utilization for crops is the focus of Monsanto Company's Water Utilization Learning Center, which opened this week in Gothenburg, Nebraska.

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