Monsanto unveils R&D advances at annual show


Agribusiness giant Monsanto highlighted a broad set of solutions aimed at helping farmers produce better harvests in its annual R&D (research and development) show, the company said in a statement.

A researcher works in one of agribusiness giant Monsanto’s research facilities. The company highlighted its research and development initiatives for 2017, focusing on reducing the impact from pests and diseases, managing climate change effects, and improving farm yields. PHOTO: MONSANTO

“The company’s annual research and development showcase focuses on reducing inputs, improving grower productivity and identifying ways to mitigate environmental challenges,” Monsanto explained.

“The role that agriculture plays in our daily lives has never been more critical – including meeting the world’s growing needs and driving on-farm practices that preserve biodiversity and our natural resources like soil and water,” Monsanto’s chief technology officer Robert Fraley said.

“Science is helping us identify new solutions to help farmers and this marks a record year for our R&D pipeline – with 14 projects advancing to launch and the first unveiling for more than 35 projects in the Climate pipeline. These advancements demonstrate how we’re delivering new ways that farmers can manage the 40-plus key decisions they must make throughout the growing season to enable a successful harvest. Going forward, we believe we have a greater opportunity to accelerate innovation, optimize integrated solutions and expand offerings through our combination with Bayer – translating to significant benefits for farmers around the world,” he added.

Monsanto’s R&D platforms span five areas of agricultural technology: Data science, plant breeding, plant biotechnology, crop protection and ag biologicals. Monsanto said these platforms support sustainable agriculture practices by delivering solutions that reduce the footprint of global ag production through better harvests; protect harvests from increasing threats; and deliver continuous improvement to global agri production.

Highlights of Monsanto’s R&D efforts for 2017 include:

•The BioAg Alliance, a partnership between Monsanto and Novozymes that focuses on microbial solutions, continues to grow the depth and breadth of its pipeline. The Alliance’s BioYield platform is an example of this growth through expansion to new crops and development of next-generation projects that are designed to help improve yield potential by helping crops use nutrients in the soil more efficiently.

•The Climate FieldView™ platform allows farmers to collect and analyze field data from multiple sources—including the soil, field and atmosphere —and provides valuable insights to help farmers get the most out of every acre. The platform continues to evolve research efforts to develop new digital tools, including insights that help farmers make more informed decisions about crop nutrition and fertility, as well as which seed and planting approaches will help enable a more productive harvest each year. The Climate FieldView™ platform continues to be the most widely adopted digital ag platform in the industry, Monsanto said.

•Higher-Yielding Corn, a family of corn plants with traits for increased yield potential, is also advancing in the pipeline. This project is part of the company’s Yield & Stress research collaboration with BASF.

Pest and disease control

A number of key developments are also being pursued to mitigate losses from insects, weeds, diseases and environmental variables that can result in food loss in the field and after harvest.

“The effects of climate change can further exacerbate these pressures,” the company noted. The 2017 R&D highlights include broad, integrated solutions to address yield-limiting diseases, for example, improved crop mapping and survey through the Climate FieldView™ platform; breeding research on vegetable and row crops; and a number of disease and pest control technologies that can be applied at various stages of the growing cycle, including some developed with Bayer AG.

The company is also aggressively pursuing research to promote the health of honey bees, which are critically important pollinators for our food system.

“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 TM Technology: Bee Health Varroa Control, represents an innovative biological approach to target this devastating threat to bees,” Monsanto explained.

In addition, Monsanto is also developing a seed-applied nematode control solution, as nematodes are one of the strongest pest challenges in agriculture, the company said.

Monsanto also highlighted how its proposed combination with Bayer would help create a leading global agriculture company through expanding R&D capabilities, improve discovery of biological solutions to pests and diseases, and improve production processes.

“Monsanto believes that ag innovation, continuous improvements in farming practices, and collaborations across the public and private sectors can truly make a difference for farmers, the consumers they serve, and the planet,” the company added.


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