Agriculture plays a critical role in our daily lives– including supporting our food and clothing needs; driving on-farm practices to reduce plowing and preserve our soils; or through improved land productivity practices which protect our planet’s precious natural resources and biodiversity. This work has never been more important.
Monsanto Company showcased recently a wide range of agriculture solutions which are being developed to assist farmers as they work to grow better harvests, protect their crops and deliver more to society. The company highlighted a series of innovations under development across its research and development (R&D) portfolio – across its research platforms in plant breeding, plant biotechnology, chemistry, biologicals and data science.
“Increasingly, farmers throughout the world are being asked to do more to keep up with the growing demands of society and manage key challenges that prevent food and crops from making it to harvest,” said Robert Fraley, Ph.D., Monsanto’s chief technology officer. “Science is helping us identify new solutions to help farmers reduce the footprint of global agriculture while also mitigating the effects of the challenges they face – whether from bugs, weeds, disease or weather. This research combined with continuous improvements in farming practices and collaborations with other thought leaders – can truly make a difference for farmers, the consumers they serve and our planet.”
Monsanto’s R&D Platforms Support Sustainable Agriculture Practices by:
1. Reducing the footprint of global ag production through better harvests
The world’s current footprint utilized for global ag production is under continuous pressure. Expanding urban populations and growing demands for increased food and clothing, mean that farmers must identify ways to deliver more agriculture products on the existing land they farm. This work is vitally important as existing agriculture lands are a critical resource to capture carbon from the environment. The ability to do more on this footprint means that additional land masses do not need to be brought into production – an action that can help further stem the release of greenhouse gases into the environment. Monsanto is developing a number of key innovations to support farmers in these efforts – projects highlighted today include:
-New developments in plant breeding, such as the High-Density Corn Systems, are being developed to help farmers sustainably grow more crops on each acre. The research project is expected to allow farmers to increase the number of plants per acre, creating greater harvests.
-Early-stage research in plant biotechnology, including Next-Generation Higher-Yielding Corn and Next-Generation Higher-Yielding Soybean projects, are expected to offer farmers the ability to boost the inherent output potential of their crops. The research, which Monsanto is conducting in collaboration with BASF, is already showing early progress in field trials and uncovering enhancements not easily accomplished by breeding – including the identification of multiple plant traits to increase crop yields.
-Advancements in digital agriculture tools, including The Climate Corporation’s Climate FieldView DriveTM and Script Creator in Climate FieldView ProTM are now helping farmers increase their on-farm productivity.
2. Protecting the footprint of global ag production from increasing threats
Every season farmers work to mitigate pressures from insects, weeds and diseases on their crops. Environmental variables can impact the potential of their harvests and, as a result, their profitability. The effects of climate change and increasingly variable weather can further exacerbate these pressures. Monsanto is developing multiple innovations to assist farmers as they continue to mitigate these challenges including:
-Next-generation weed control technologies, including Roundup Ready 2 XtendTM soybeans and Bollgard II® XtendFlexTM cotton, are poised to offer farmers new ways to mitigate challenges from yield-robbing weeds. The herbicide-tolerant technologies will enable greater flexibility in weed management – offering farmers the ability to adopt and maintain conservation tillage practices, which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and creates savings in fuel.
-New insect-protection technologies, including Fourth-Generation Above-Ground Insect Protected Corn, Fourth-Generation Below-Ground Insect Protected Corn and Third-Generation Insect Protected Soybeans, are now under development. These projects would offer farmers new ways to protect their crops from multiple insects while minimizing insecticide use on farm.
-Insect damage to plants and excessive moisture can cause outbreaks of plant diseases on farms and limit the productivity of crops. Research in plant biotechnology and chemistry are identifying approaches to target and mitigate the impact of diseases that affect corn plants. Monsanto’s Corn Disease Control project is developing corn plants with broad resistance to damaging diseases. Through a collaboration with Bayer Crop Science, the Acceleron® seed treatment Enhanced Fungicides offering, is aimed at managing disease infections during key stages of the growing season.
3. Delivering continuous improvement to global ag production
As farmers look to deliver better harvests on existing farmland and protect their crops, the agriculture sector must continue to find ways to improve the practices used to grow crops to meet the demands of society. Monsanto is developing novel approaches to improve harvests, while preserving the planet’s natural resources and biodiversity. This work includes:
-Research to promote the health of honey bees which are critically important to our food system. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that bees pollinate more than one-third of crops annually and increase productivity of 75 percent of all crops grown globally. However, honey bee hives are routinely impacted by the Varroa mite – a threat which introduces viruses into the bee’s home and greatly reduces their numbers and productivity. Research underway at Monsanto, called BioDirectTM Bee Health, represents the world’s first biological approach to target this devastating threat to these vital pollinators.
-Research in soil microbials is uncovering new tools, such as an enhanced corn inoculant, that increases the overall harvest opportunity. The research, which is being conducted through The BioAg Alliance – Monsanto’s collaboration with Novozymes – focuses on microbial growth along plant roots, improving nutrient access and unlocking yield potential.
-Advancements in digital tools are poised to help farmers optimize the use of nitrogen on their farms. The Climate Corporation’s Nitrogen Advisor and its Sub-Field Nitrogen enhancement are designed to provide farmers with insights on nitrogen rates and timing.
-Continuous innovation in chemistry is generating new breakthrough innovations such as the Improved Dicamba Formulation II project. This formulation is expected to provide farmers with a higher-concentrated, lower use-rate product – a development which will enable greater flexibility for farmers and reduce the footprint of shipping and packaging for this new product.