BASF: a new strategy to face the agriculture of the future
Nov. 4, 2019
Few would know the small Dutch town of Nunhem, very close to the German border, if it were not because it hosts one of the most important horticultural seed research and production centers in the world. The last big step taken by this multinational took it in 2018 almost without wanting to. In the battle for the distribution of the great cake of the phytosanitary market, BASF incorporated Nunhems in its portfolio from Bayer Crop Science. A great success given the great added value that it can contribute in the medium term to the company's agricultural business and the facilities incorporated into the BASF universe. 67 hectares with a 55,000 m 2 greenhouseThey welcome 650 employees who carry out leading research in 24 crops. The last big news was the recent opening of GreenEx, a new 2.5-hectare complex with a state-of-the-art greenhouse and 17,000 m 2 of technical equipment and office space.
The farmer's voice
The day at the Nunhems facilities began with BASF, giving the floor to a panel of European farmers who came to the company's call to offer their impressions of how companies and media in the sector have to face the agriculture of the future. "We have to show consumers everything we are capable of doing, only then will we prevent those who try to discredit us from winning," said French producer Alison Jobard. In this same sense, Galina Peychova-Miteva, a Bulgarian farmer and farmer, asked "that we all be able to transmit to society what agriculture entails for food production. It should not be considered simply one more business."
Also during the debate arose the controversy faced by European agriculture on the use of phytosanitary products and the obsession with everything labeled organic or ecological. “Insects continue and will continue to exist and if we do not work with the necessary means to combat them, resistance will continue to grow and affect our productions. Chemistry is necessary and, although many wish otherwise, we need companies like BASF or Nunhems to make it happen and also to explain it to the farmer and the consumer, ”explained Italian producer Dionisio l'Abatte. In this same sense, the German producer Stefan Cramm, affirmed that if today we have better soils than 50 years ago it is due to technology since companies like BASF have been involved to save our crops. "
Finally, Andrew Pitts, a British farmer, explained the collaborative model carried out among producers in the United Kingdom and insisted "on the expansion of that idea to face the large number of changes that agriculture will have to face in the next decade."
BASF sets course for the new decade
BASF has done its homework in recent years and has decided to bet firmly on its agricultural business. This is the only way to explain the acquisition last year of Nunhems and the entry into the world of seeds. "This is a new way of working and doing business," Vincent Gros, president since July of the Agricultural Division of BASF, announced to the audience. "In the next decade we have to adapt to a demographically changing society, a changing climate and a consumer who wants more transparency. We have to find the perfect balance for the success of farmers and future generations," he added.
Gros insisted on the idea that BASF no longer only offers phytosanitary solutions, but is considered a provider of solutions for agriculture, from seeds to digital solutions. "But we don't want to be everywhere, but to focus on four cropping systems that cover 70% of the entire world market and with very clear objectives," Gros said. BASF wants to be a well-known actor in America thanks to innovation in soy, corn and cotton; become a market leader in Europe and North America in the field of cereal, rapeseed and sunflower; get third position globally in fruits and vegetables; and become a recognized actor in Asia in the cultivation of rice.
For this, the president of BASF Agricultural Solutions, announced that in addition to increasing the budget in R&D -of approximately 900 million euros in 2019-, the company will launch more than 30 new products by 2028 with a maximum sales potential of 6,000 millions of euros. This includes eight new active ingredients, as well as genetic traits and high yield seeds in hybrid wheat, soybeans, rapeseed, cotton and vegetables. BASF will place special emphasis on digital products, with the Xarvio digital platform as a great standard. To all this, according to Gros, sustainability will be added, with the aim of improving agricultural practices for greater transparency, and the development of a strategy that allows greater interaction with the client, listening to it and establishing a mutual relationship trust.
Livio Tedeschi, vice president of BASF Agricultural Solutions for the EMEA & CIS region, was in charge of focusing on the needs of European agriculture in the coming years and the solutions BASF wants to offer. “More than a third of our business is in this region of the world and here there will be great changes in the next decade at the political and regulatory, climate, technological and social levels. Our cultivation systems are based on the needs of the European farmer and that is why we want to be leaders in the cereal, rapeseed and sunflower market, and become the reference company in fruit and vegetable innovation, ”Tedeschi began by explaining.
For next year, Tedeschi announced the launch of a large amount of fungicides and herbicides, always accompanied by digital solutions to "specify" their use. Among the news announced is Revysol, an active principle for a broad spectrum of diseases and crops with an estimated sales potential of 1,000 million euros. It will be, according to BASF, an essential tool for resistance management, with exceptional biological performance and flexible use even in adverse weather conditions.
Revysol will also be joined by the new hybrid wheat developed by BASF, which wants to follow the trail of the success of other hybrid crops and will allow for a wheat that significantly improves its productivity and is much more resistant to diseases. Finally, and in the digital field, Tedeschi presented Xarvio Healthy Fields, a disruptive model that will be launched in 2020 and that will allow the farmer to make decisions and execute precise solutions. "We have to offer the farmer digital tools to help him make decisions whose consequences for his business are increasingly important," added the vice president for the EMEA region.
Local needs, proximity solutions
For all professionals from southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa - the demonized South sub-region for BASF - the company wanted to dedicate a special session led by Alberto Ancora, head of BASF Agro in this area of the globe since last 1 of September. For an hour we were able to know some of the products and projects that concern our closest crops, among which we can highlight:
- Provisia: an innovative system that allows post-emergency control of a wide range of weeds, including grasses resistant to existing mechanisms of action, soft rice and red rice, with great application flexibility.
- Tessior: Developed together with Mesto and Felco for the control of diseases of the trunk of the vine, it is a system that together with the fungicide has a specific device that allows a precise and selective application, reducing the workload and increasing the efficiency , with the consequent improvement of quality and performance.
- Olive oil: BASF collaborates in Greece in a project developed together with Haifa, Netafim, Gaia Epicherein and Pieralisi, for the establishment of six visitable demonstration farms that aim to show good agricultural practices to ensure effective crop management.
- 'Riso Chiaro' : The blockchain project carried out in Italy, developed with start-up Ez Lab and rice producer Tenuta Darola. It allows the tracking of rice grain data from planting to harvest, providing transparency from the producer to the final consumer.
- HORT @ : Developed, among other regions, in La Rioja, this interactive decision support system allows farmers and technicians to improve their decisions regarding the choice of phytosanitary products and the application calendar thanks to forecast models of diseases, which take into account weather conditions and specific crop data.
easyconnect: from the original container to the tank
BASF also had the opportunity to present the new phytosanitary transfer technology developed together with Adama, Corteva Agriscience, Nufarm and Syngenta. The 'easyconnect' system consists of a screw cap (attached to the containers) and a coupler, which together form the CTS (closed transfer technology. It is expected that by 2021/2022 a wide range of packages (IS 63 standard) will be equipped with the standardized screw cap in countries such as Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, which others will most likely follow, each of the five companies currently carrying out pilot projects of the 'easyconnect' CTS system in countries selected to assess the benefits for operators, farmers and the environment.
“A CTS such as 'easyconnect' allows phytosanitary products to be poured directly from the original container into the tank and the volume of phytosanitary product being transferred is accurately measured. This significantly reduces operator exposure, as well as environmental risks from splashes or spills, ”said Livio Tedeschi, Vice President Agricultural Solutions EMEA and CIS of BASF.
Developed by BASF in collaboration with equipment manufacturers, 'asyconnect' has been extensively tested in the field in several countries since 2015. The system has been continuously improved taking into account farmers' valuations in terms of handling and speed, making the process Filling is faster than with the introduction hopper normally used.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in Spanish. This English summary has been prepared with Google Translate and edited for clarity.
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