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Monsanto's Pipeline Promises New Tools For Farmers

By Kacey Birchmier

Monsanto has been focusing on developing new technologies across research and development platforms, says Robb Fraley, chief technology officer at Monsanto. Here’s what you can expect.

• Weed Control
“We’ve made significant progress in our next generations of weed-control platforms – in both soybeans and cotton,” says Fraley. With the USDA recommendation to deregulate, Monsanto is working toward a planned 2016 commercial launch of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. 

• Disease-Resistance Program
“Gray leaf spot (GLS) and Goss’s wilt are significant diseases in the U.S. and can cause catastrophic losses – upwards of 30%,” says Fraley.

The launch of improved GLS-resistant and Goss’s wilt-resistant germplasm will provide another management tool for you to utilize. In the 2014 trials, Monsanto scientists saw a 30- to 40-bushel-per-acre yield advantage in low- to high-GLS disease pressure environments, respectively, says Fraley.

“Our Goss’s wilt-resistant research trials were even more impressive, with resistant hybrids demonstrating a 50- to 100-bushel-per-acre advantage over susceptible varieties in low- to high-disease pressure,” adds Fraley.

• Insect Management

Fraley promises the release of four next-generation insect-control technologies by the end of the decade. These include SmartStax Pro and Bollgard III in cotton.

“We understand the criticality of continuing upgrading insect control to anticipate the evolution of the insect population,” says Fraley.

• Weather Management
DroughtGard hybrids were initially targeted for Western dryland acres, but the expansion will allow it to go beyond the targeted area into the East. DroughtGard SmartStax Pro combines 10 different biotech genes to bring the benefits of improved yield potential in water-stressed conditions from the DroughtGard gene and drought-resistant germplasm. The benefits of the third-generation below-ground insect control come from SmartStax Pro, says Fraley.

• The Climate Corporation
Monsanto has also made upgrades to The Climate Corporation’s Climate Pro. The 2015 updated version will incorporate a new soil hydration model and soil temperature simulator to help more effectively track and manage field nitrogen levels.

“Through the application of data science and precision agriculture, this platform has the unique ability to integrate all of our technology platforms, connecting farming as it has never been done before,” says Fraley.

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