Bayer CropScience to Invest $1.9 Bln in Wheat R&D

Liam Condon, CEO of Bayer CropScience, at the Cereal Future Forum in Brussels, Belgium; photo credit: Bayer CropScience

Liam Condon, CEO of Bayer CropScience, at the Cereal Future Forum in Brussels, Belgium; photo credit: Bayer CropScience

About 230 experts and representatives from 30 cereal growing countries across the globe met on Feb. 11 and 12 at the Bayer CropScience Cereal Future Forum in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss current challenges and future opportunities in wheat production. The conference aimed to stimulate fresh perspectives on topics ranging from agronomic challenges such as integrated weed and pest management, the impact of drought and heat on yield, value chain requirements, regulatory challenges and opportunities for technology innovation with digital farming approaches.

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Speakers from academia, farms, associations, industry and governmental institutions shared their individual experiences and perspectives in growing wheat around the world. The main conclusion: The global demand for wheat is rising steadily and outpacing productivity. To further increase agricultural productivity without compromising the environment, more innovation is required to ensure a sustainable intensification of wheat production, Bayer CropScience said in a statement.

Embracing innovation to expand the yield frontier and exploit today’s potential

Bayer CropScience has set-up a long-term innovation program to enhance global wheat productivity. The company is a market leader in crop protection products for the world’s most important crop, and started to build up a wheat seeds business in 2010 by engaging in collaborations with leading wheat research institutions and selected acquisitions. “We have a 10-year plan to invest 1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in the research and development of new solutions for wheat through to 2020 – encompassing both high-yielding seeds and new crop protection solutions to advance global wheat cultivation,” said Liam Condon, Chief Executive Officer at Bayer CropScience. “Seven wheat breeding stations across the crop’s main growing areas around the world are now operating, and the first seeds are currently being sold in Eastern Europe. Hybrid seed varieties with improved yield are expected to be ready for market after 2020 – an example for the long-term nature of our business,” Condon further explained.

“The challenge is significant,” said Steve Patterson, Global Crop Manager Cereals at Bayer CropScience. “Collaboration is essential. We have to focus on the needs of farmers, both the large-scale operations in industrialized countries but also small-scale farmers in developing countries. Agronomy can make a difference as well as technology – digital farming, new cultivation systems and machinery which enable this. In addition, we all have a role to play to communicate the needs and benefits of modern farming. And we need to explain the science behind the technology to support a predictable and science-based regulatory environment.”

Being committed to dialogue and collaboration, Bayer CropScience has established the series of dedicated Crop Future Forums to provide a networking platform on the future of key agricultural crops. “With our Crop Future Forums we want to foster stakeholder dialog and knowledge exchange with a focus on societal trends and innovative solutions for future challenges,” said Hartmut van Lengerich, Head of Cereals, Rice, Oilseeds and Fungicide Assets at Bayer CropScience. “Cereals are an important staple crop for human diets. We are committed to addressing the future demands of a growing world population by providing innovative integrated solutions to farmers worldwide. To be able to do so, we are actively seeking to engage in dialog and join forces with cereal experts all over the world. This Future Forum was already the second one dedicated to cereals and we have been able to tie in successfully with the discussions at our first Cereal Future Forum held in 2011.”