Bayer Expands European Wheat Breeding Center
Bayer CropScience is extending its European Wheat Breeding Center in Saxony-Anhalt in Germany.
The company has tripled the capacity of its complex on the premises of the Gatersleben Biotech Park with investments amounting to some $16.9 million (EUR 15 million) since its inauguration in 2012.
“The expansion of the breeding center is another milestone in our wheat strategy,” said Frank Terhorst, Head of Bayer CropScience’s Seeds business, at the inauguration of the new buildings.
The center currently comprises some 40 hectares of farm land, approximately 1,000 m2 of greenhouses and 1,300 m2 of laboratories and offices, and a further 1,000 m2 for seed preparation. In the coming years, the wheat breeding area will be extended to a total of 80 hectares.
In addition to the development of varieties with higher yields and traits such as increased resistance to diseases, the current 18 employees at Gatersleben coordinate Bayer CropScience’s entire wheat-breeding activities in Europe with breeding stations in France and Ukraine. The first wheat variety from Bayer’s development program was launched this year in Ukraine under the brand name “Areal.” Hybrid seed promising markedly enhanced yield stability is scheduled to be available after 2020.
“With a total of 7 wheat-breeding centers worldwide, we now have ideal conditions to establish a leading position in the wheat seed business over the coming years,” said Terhorst. The demand for wheat is growing steadily and outstripping productivity. To increase productivity without negatively impacting the environment, we need innovation, which is why we are investing intensively in research here in Gatersleben. Extreme weather conditions have already destabilized the global wheat markets on several occasions since 2000.”
“The amount of land available for farming is not going to increase significantly, which means that we need a massive increase in agricultural productivity more urgently than ever,” said guest speaker Professor Jochen Christoph Reif, Head of the Breeding Research Department of the Leibniz Institute for Plant Genetics and Crop Research in Gatersleben.
The main objectives for Bayer CropScience’s wheat breeders are yield stability, increased yields and efficient nutrient utilization, for example nitrogen and phosphorus uptake. Other goals include adapting wheat varieties to climate factors such as drought or heat. The breeders are also developing varieties that are resistant to fungal diseases and have enhanced baking quality.
Bayer CropScience says it is already the market leader for crop protection products in wheat and began establishing its wheat seed business in 2010. The work in 7 wheat-breeding stations in all major growing regions is supplemented and augmented by collaborations with leading institutions. A 10-year plan envisages investments of $1.7 billion (EUR 1.5 billion) in the research and development of new solutions for wheat through 2020, with high-yield varieties and new crop protection solutions to support wheat-growing all over the world.