Monsanto Looks Forward
Earlier this week, Monsanto showcased a wide range of agriculture solutions being developed to assist farmers as they work to grow better harvests and protect those crops. A series of innovations across its research platforms in plant breeding, plant biotechnology, chemistry, biological, and data science were highlighted.
“Increasingly, farmers throughout the world are being asked to do more to keep up with the growing demands of society and manage key challenges that prevent food and crops from making it to harvest,” said Robert Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer. “Science is helping us identify new solutions to help farmers reduce the footprint of global agriculture while also mitigating the effects of the challenges they face – whether from bugs, weeds, disease, or weather. This research combined with continuous improvements in farming practices and collaborations with other thought leaders – can truly make a difference for farmers, the consumers they serve, and our planet.”
Below are the ways Monsanto’s R&D platforms support sustainable agriculture practices.
1. Reduce the footprint of global ag production through better harvests.
- Develops in plant breeding. Monsanto continues to work on new developments in plant breeding, such as the High-Density Corn Systems. The research project is expected to allow farmers to increase the number of plants per acre, creating greater harvests, according to a company report.
- Increase crop potential. Early-stage research in plant biotechnology, including next-generation higher-yielding corn and next-generation higher-yielding soybean projects, are expected to offer farmers the ability to boost the inherent output potential of their crops, says the company report. Research, which Monsanto is conducting in collaboration with BASF, is showing early progress in field trials and uncovering enhancements – including the identification of multiple plant traits to increase crop yields.
- Focus on digital tools. Advancements in digital agriculture tools, including The Climate Corporation’s Climate FieldView Drive and Script Creator in Climate FieldView Pro are now helping farmers increase their on-farm productivity.
2. Protect the footprint of global ag production from increasing threats.
- Battle weeds. Next-generation weed control technologies, including Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton, are poised to offer farmers new ways to mitigate challenges from yield-robbing weeds.
- Improve insect protection technologies. New insect-protection technologies, including fourth-generation above-ground insect protected corn, fourth-generation below-ground insect protected corn and third-generation insect protected soybeans, are now under development. These projects would offer farmers new ways to protect their crops from multiple insects while minimizing insecticide use on farm, according to a company report.
- Research plant biotechnology. Insect damage to plants and excessive moisture can cause outbreaks of plant diseases on farms and limit the productivity of crops. Research in plant biotechnology and chemistry are identifying approaches to target and mitigate the impact of diseases that affect corn plants. Monsanto’s corn disease control project is developing corn plants with broad resistance to damaging diseases. Through a collaboration with Bayer Crop Science, the Acceleron seed treatment enhanced fungicides offering, is aimed at managing disease infections during key stages of the growing season.
3. Deliver continuous improvement to global ag production.
- Promote honey bee health. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that bees pollinate more than one-third of crops annually and increase productivity of 75% of all crops grown globally. However, honey bee hives are routinely impacted by the Varroa mite – a threat which introduces viruses into the bee’s home and greatly reduces their numbers and productivity. Research underway at Monsanto, called BioDirect Bee Health, represents the world’s first biological approach to target this devastating threat to these vital pollinators.
- Microbial research. Researching microbials in soil microbials is uncovering new tools, such as an enhanced corn inoculant, that increases the overall harvest opportunity. The research, which is being conducted through The BioAg Alliance – Monsanto’s collaboration with Novozymes – focuses on microbial growth along plant roots, improving nutrient access and unlocking yield potential.
- Digital tool advancement. Advancements in digital tools are poised to help farmers optimize the use of nitrogen (N) on their farms. The Climate Corporation’s nitrogen advisor and its sub-field nitrogen enhancement are designed to provide farmers with insights on N rates and timing.