Training is key at Bayer's SeedGrowth Center in Nigel, South Africa
Mar. 14, 2018
The SeedGrowth Center in South Africa is the very first one on the African continent. Why is it located there?
Jaco van Zyl: To explain it in a little more detail, I have to first talk about corn. Corn is a key crop in South Africa, as well as in the southern part of the continent. In total, corn is grown on 8 million hectares in Southern Africa, of which 2.5 million hectares are in South Africa. So this facility has been built in the heart of the corn production area. Our SeedGrowth Center will not only enhance research and development efforts, but also benefit the entire agricultural community for sustainable growth here.
Which services do you offer?
Jaco van Zyl: We offer the four competencies of Bayer SeedGrowth™: coatings, products, equipment, and of course services. The Center has been designed to support the optimal seed treatment formulas and the installation and setup of equipment. This is important to ensure our Bayer SeedGrowth product range is applied accurately. We also use the facility to treat the Bayer cotton and oil seed rape seed range. Here we learn a lot and can pass on what we learn to all our customers.
What challenges do your clients have, and how do you tackle them?
Jaco van Zyl: One challenge our customers had to face was excessive dust abrasion in some production facilities. This resulted in variable loadings and other important, possibly negative impacts. With the support of our global Bayer SeedGrowth colleagues, we managed to identify a strategy to minimize this. This included the installation of the BaySTEP system – a system that analyzes noise to determine if the seeds are finished with treatment – as well as changes to recipes.
What are the diseases farmers have to deal with?
Jaco van Zyl: The Maize Streak Virus, which is transmitted by the leafhopper, is a problem. In high-intensity situations, we demonstrated to growers that their farming systems had to be adapted. This included a long-term, best-practice trial as well as a communication campaign in the media. The above-mentioned challenges prove that training is key if you want to have a healthy field. Since its grand opening in August 2016, we have trained around 105 people at our SeedGrowth Center.
What are the future plans for the South African SeedGrowth Center?
Jaco van Zyl: Due to the importance of corn as a crop on the African continent and the growth in crops such as soybeans and oil seed rape, we are looking forward to offering our services in other countries. The seed companies we are currently working with have a footprint in all African nations, and it is our plan to support them.