Bayer to Build Glufosinate-Ammonium Plant

Liam Condon; credit: Bayer CropScience

Bayer CropScience said it will step up its investments by $1.3 billion to about $3.2 billion over the next three years, resulting in higher production volume of key active ingredients for crop protection products.

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Under the plan, the Monheim, Germany-based company will spend $503.8 million to construct a new plant in Mobile, Alabama to produce the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium, which it sells in the United States under the name Liberty. The new plant is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2015, in time for the 2016 growing season. The new plant will contribute to its target of more than doubling global product supply for the active ingredient, it said.

Bayer said it is on track to reach $11.93 billion in sales in 2013 and $13.26 billion in 2015 as demand for its products soars.

“Demand from farmers for our products is increasing so strongly that we’re significantly stepping up our supply chain capacity to serve farmers around the world with much needed innovative agricultural solutions,” CEO Liam Condon said. “About 900 million people remain hungry today and the world population is growing strongly. We need to raise agricultural productivity and at the same time advance sustainability in farming and ensure protection of the environment. We aim to achieve this by developing innovative solutions and services that can help agriculture to contribute to the healthy development of society,” he added.

Bayer said increased production of Liberty will help to fight weed resistance, as the product is “the only non-selective herbicide that controls weeds resistant to the most used herbicide, glyphosate.” About half of U.S. farmers have experienced weed resistance on their fields, and the problem is spreading quickly worldwide.

Bayer said it is addressing this problem through diagnostics and monitoring, and by promoting an Integrated Weed Management (IWM) approach, such as crop rotation. The approach includes the use of herbicides with different modes of action including glufosinate-ammonium, and rotation of herbicide-tolerant traits help growers to manage or delay weed resistance.

“Diversity is the key to sustainable agriculture,” Condon added.

Soybean, Wheat Expansion

Bayer said it also plans to strengthen its position in established crops such as vegetables, rice, oilseed rape and cotton, and to build up its investments in soybean and wheat.

“We are continuing to invest in our soybean business, for example through strategic acquisitions in Latin America, contributing to a fast and focused development of distinctive traits,” explained Condon, who highlighted the soybean cyst nematode trait currently under development.

Condon announced the launch of the global Bayer soybean brand Credenz for late 2014 in North and South America. The soybean seeds will offer traits in the future that could protect soybeans against specific insects, repel persistent attacks by nematodes and make soybeans tolerant to the most effective herbicides, he said.

Bayer said it is also focusing on wheat, the world’s most important staple crop, by building a global wheat breeding network, with the objective of developing high-yielding varieties adapted to local growing conditions. First varieties are expected to come to market in 2015.