Bayer drives agricultural innovation with year 2020 pipeline projects

Short-stature corn stands several feet shorter than standard variety in Bayer’s Jerseyville, Illinois demonstration plot. Credit: Bob Reiter/Bayer
April 4, 2020                                   

Bayer of Germany has announced year 2020 pipeline projects for Crop Science including the launch of short stature corn after delivering in 2019 55 key projects aligned with an aim of cutting carbon footprint in light of imminent climate change.   

Providing farmers around the world with more than 450 newly commercialized hybrids and varieties of corn, soybeans, cotton and vegetables. Bayer’s annual investment is 2.3 billion euros in crop science Research & Development (R&D).  
Bayer continually converts its R&D investment into innovative products that match the complexities farmers, consumers and the planet are anticipated to face.

   “At Bayer, we are driven to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges. This means helping feed the world without starving our planet. Farmers with operations of all sizes need innovation not only to grow enough nutritious food, but also to do this in a sustainable manner that respects planetary boundaries,” said Liam Condon, Bayer Crop Science president and board member of Bayer based in  Monheim, Germany.   

“Our employees are united around this goal, and our unrivaled pipeline is delivering against it.”  

Short stature corn

   Bayer’s short stature corn is expected to provide environmental sustainability benefits through a transformational shift in crop management flexibility.   

Because it is several feet shorter than today’s hybrid field corn (6-7 feet versus 10-11 feet), the product concept allows farmers to have better in-season crop access for precision applications of inputs, such as nitrogen, which can be made when the plant needs them most.      
Some short stature corn hybrids can also be planted closer together, enabling the production of more corn on the same amount of land and potentially reducing requirements for land and water.   

Shorter stature will also help improve standability, including better green snap and stalk lodging tolerance, helping reduce crop loss from challenging environmental conditions such as high winds from extreme weather (that destroy corn plants).   

Both the breeding and biotechnology approaches to create short stature corn are advancing to Phase 3.  Bayer also unveiled a third pathway to short stature corn, a Discovery Phase project that has achieved proof of concept through gene editing.   

According to Bob Reiter of Bayer, these are other advantages farmers can expect from short stature corn—given commercialization:

1. You can plant short stature corn seeds more closely together, producing more crops on the same amount of land.

2. Under limited water conditions, plants with the native trait have shown reduced signs of stress.

3. You can access short stature corn fields with farm equipment much later in the growing season, making it possible to more precisely and efficiently apply needed nutrients and fungicides.   

Bayer also announced a new herbicide molecule:  the new post-emergence mode of action for broad acre weed control in 30 years. Multiple MOAs (mechanism of action) for weed control are important for managing herbicide resistance and enabling practices that help to sequester greenhouse gases, like no-till farming.   

Discovering new herbicide MOAs has been a challenge for the industry, but Bayer’s continued investment, leading compound library and advanced screening capabilities have enabled a breakthrough.   

Bayer announced a molecule in Phase 2 of early development which has demonstrated effective control of key resistant grasses in early research.   

The work demonstrates progress toward Bayer’s long term commitment to investing approximately 5 billion euros in additional methods to combat weeds over the next decade.       

Discovery of this molecule is being complemented by a discovery-phase program to identify and develop a corresponding biotechnology trait to convey herbicide tolerance and initial approaches are under evaluation.  

Making best-in-class, better

   XtendFlex® soybeans, the next generation of weed control for soybeans, is advancing to launch phase this spring in the U.S., pending regulatory approvals.

This product builds on the foundation of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans and adds tolerance to another herbicide, glufosinate.   

Beyond Xtendflex,  Bayer advanced both fourth- and fifth-generation soy herbicide tolerant traits, leading the industry with tolerances to six herbicide classes expected to be launched by 2030.

Converting R&D into tailored, value-added solutions for farmers

   There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to farming. Every combination of products must be tailored to meet the needs of each customer’s field. Digital tools deepen understanding of those needs, accelerating Bayer’s ability to help farmers with individualized challenges.

   The Climate FieldView™ digital agriculture platform, now available in more than 20 countries, continues to lead the industry with its comprehensive, connected suite of tools that help farmers make data-driven decisions to increase their productivity.   

Adoption of the platform has quickly accelerated due to the value farmers around the globe find in the technology, and FieldView’s™ innovation in turning data into actionable insights has led farmers to connect more than 95 million acres globally of their farm data to the platform, making it the leader in data connectivity.

   The first offering of its kind, Seed Advisor enables better decision making with a predictive model that combines the industry’s largest proprietary seed genetics library with regional seed performance data to help predict the best performing hybrids for each of a farmer’s fields.
Performance testing from 2017-2019 demonstrated a consistent 6-9 bushel per acre yield advantage in farmer field trials. Planned pre-commercial expansions for 2021 include an additional three states vastly growing the number of U.S. corn acres.

   In South America, Advanced Seed Prescriptions are unlocking yield potential using a farmer’s historical field data or field health imagery, combined with Bayer proprietary field-testing results, to provide variable rate corn density planting prescriptions tailored to their unique yield or profitability goals.

Recent trials have demonstrated an average yield benefit of 3.2 bushels per acre across Brazil and Argentina.
   Bayer’s breeding advantage is the product of sophisticated breeding techniques, data science, and digital analytics platforms in concert with the world’s largest germplasm library.

Novel applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence continue to improve the speed and scale at which we can arrive at the best products to meet each grower’s needs.   

Identifying the best possible products earlier in the pipeline enables more extensive field testing in diverse conditions and more valuable product insights collected over the course of product development.   

This data supports the success of the new hybrids and varieties we deliver to farmers each year. In corn, this has translated to Bayer’s leading position in five of the six key corn geographies worldwide.

   Bayer views investment in innovation as investment in more sustainable agriculture for the next generation.   

Bayer innovation focuses on producing more on each acre, reducing the environmental impact of farming, and enabling better-informed decisions through data. The company’s commitment to sustainability also includes making innovation available and applicable to farmers with operations of all sizes, all over the world.
  Bayer’s ThryvOn™ Technology, a trait for lygus and thrips control in cotton, is expected to launch in 2021, pending regulatory approval. ThryvOn TM Technology is predicted to provide immense value to farmers by supporting healthy plant growth and helping protect yield potential against pests that, until now, couldn’t be managed through a biotech trait.       

Advancements in insect-protection traits reduce the need for foliar insecticide applications and improve productivity per acre.

   Today’s crop protection solutions include safer and more effective chemistries through Bayer’s decades-long commitment to evolving the company’s portfolio – including advanced formulations, stricter safety standards and greater efficacy.   

An example is iblon™ technology, a novel new fungicide for cereals. Wheat treated with iblon™ exceeded market standards by on average 2.2 percent higher yields, allowing farmers to be more efficient and sustainable at all levels of their business.

   “We are converting R&D into solutions for farmers that enhance productivity, create new value and reduce the use of inputs necessary to produce a crop,” said Bob Reiter, head of R&D for the Crop Science Division. “Thanks to our leading positions across technology platforms, Bayer is best positioned to discover, combine and tailor solutions – serving unmet needs and imagining new ways to farm – and that’s a win for farmers, consumers and our planet.”

Short-tall corn comparisons shown with short stature corn (Left) before the equipment against conventional corn (Right), credit- The Furrow

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