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Bayer CropScience focuses on contributing to sustainable agriculture

If you’ve considered using Liberty herbicide, but found non-existent or scant supplies, you’re in luck. Bayer CropScience is ramping up its U.S. production of this product that gives farmers a tool in their weed-resistance management strategy.

Construction of a glufosinate-ammonium (Liberty’s active ingredient) plant is underway in Mobile, Alabama. Bayer CropScience officials announced last week at its annual press conference in Monheim, Germany, that it plans to have the plant running by the end of 2015 in time for the 2016 growing season.

That’s just one example of strong demand that is spurring Bayer CropScience to add EUR 1 billion ($1.3 billion) in its investment program. Company officials announced Bayer CropScience is on track to grow sales towards 9 billion euros ($11.9 billion) in 2013 and 10 billion euros ($13.3 billion) in 2015.

We are in a situation that we actually need to further ramp-up our supplies so we can meet this growing demand," says Condon. "This is just a sign of our confidence in continued market growth based on these huge challenges we are facing.”

A 70% increase in food production will be necessary to feed the expected world population of 9.6 billion people by 2050.  Not only will there be more people to feed but the current population has been changing consumption patterns says Condon. Consumption patterns are changing as more people move out of the lower class and into the middle class, a class that eats more protein. Condon also adds insufficient storage facilities; leading to waste of crops, pose an additional challenge.

“This will call for a new way of thinking about agriculture. We do not believe that incremental growth and just doing a little bit more of what we are doing today, a little bit better, is going to be enough. There will have to be significant changes,” says Condon.

To meet the demands on the future of agriculture Condon says they are focused on five elements:

  • Innovation. “There has to be a focus on using the best technologies available to generate real innovations to meet these challenges,” says Condon.
  • Enabling farmers – both big and small. Condon believes in providing farmers with the tools, technology, and training to thrive economically in the long-term.
  • Providing a sustainable intensification of agriculture.
  • Enhancing human health through healthy plants. Healthy plants will result in healthy food – ultimately resulting in healthy humans. We need make this connection and make it clear why it’s so important that we have healthy plants and that we use every technology available to ensure our plants will be healthy. This is impacting the health of humans, explained Condon.
  • Extending partnerships across companies and across governmental sectors. “There needs to be a new approach to working together, because these problems are too big to solve in small elite circles,” says Condon.

Crop Protection
In crop protection, Bayer CropScience is focused on weed management. Condon says there are currently 260 weeds with herbicide resistance, and the resistance affects 50% of the growers in the United States.

He says a holistic approach is necessary to manage this issue – with diversity being at the core of the strategy. Monitoring, diagnostics, outreach and education, and research and development will be key in bringing new options for weed management.  He stressed the importance of crop rotation, the use of herbicides with different modes of action, and the rotation different herbicide-tolerant traits to manage weed resistance.

Bayer CropScience will be making major investments in soybeans and wheat. Condon announced the planned launch of the soybean brand Credenz for late 2014 in North and South America. “Credenz soybean seeds will help us to deliver improved varieties to growers. It will offer future traits that could protect soybeans against specific insects, repel persistent attacks by nematodes, and make soybeans tolerant to the most effective herbicides,” syas Condon.

For wheat, Condon says they are focusing on increasing the yield potential through hybridization. He believes the tools and technology that are available today will lead to this yield increase. “The big problem with wheat is traditionally it’s been an incredibly complex genome. But now we’re able map that genome, and we’re able to do things that were simply impossible in the past,” says Condon.

Customer Centricity

“This is a core part of our thinking – to understand food chain and consumer needs so we can help farmers and growers grow the right products in the right way,” says Condon. The customer – usually the grower – is at the center of everything adds Condon. The grower is producing to meet the needs of the food chain and the consumers at the end of the day.

To meet the needs of the farmers, Bayer CropScience has four main tools:

  • Seed and traits
  • Biologicals
  • Chemicals
  • Services – including weed monitoring, management, and diagnostic tools.

“We see this as our challenge; basically, our opportunity to put the best package together for the grower,” says Condon. Condon believes Bayer CropScience adds extra value by having a broad variety of tools for the grower to use.

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