Dec. 13, 2021
With its innovative processes and products, the chemical industry makes an important contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. BASF researchers are already contributing to making the sustainability transformation possible through their work. Current innovation examples from BASF’s research pipeline for agriculture, such as new precision application technologies for agriculture, were presented at the company’s Research Press Conference by Dr. Melanie Maas-Brunner, Member of the Board of Executive Directors and Chief Technology Officer of BASF SE, along with BASF scientists.
“The transformation towards sustainability starts in research,” said Maas-Brunner. BASF is very well-positioned here and has a unique research and development setup with around 10,000 employees globally. “To overcome the challenges of this transformation at an even faster pace and be successful in the long term, we must further strengthen customer proximity and leverage the advantage of our Know-how Verbund,” added Maas-Brunner. For this reason, the company is reorganizing its worldwide research activities in the coming year. Business-related research units, which have so far been part of the three research divisions, will be embedded into the operating divisions and thus even more closely aligned with the needs of customers. In the future, BASF will bundle research activities with relevance for several divisions in a central research division with global presence.
BASF has set itself ambitious sustainability goals. The company wants to further accelerate the development of CO2-free processes and a circular economy as well as the expansion of digitalization. Moreover, BASF supports its customers in the transformation toward greater sustainability: In total, BASF invested around €2 billion in research and development in 2020.
Innovations for sustainable agriculture
BASF research is also working on solutions for sustainable agriculture. Farmers are facing major challenges: feeding a growing world population that will reach 10 billion by 2050, changing weather conditions due to climate change, safe and effective pest and weed control amid increasing resistance as well as limited natural resources and arable land. Innovations – ranging for example from new seeds and traits to novel crop protection products and digital applications – are therefore urgently needed.
Wheat is one of the world’s most important grains, with a volume of over 770 million metric tons per year. Wheat yield must be increased significantly in the coming years. This goal will be harder to reach because of limited arable land and crop failures caused by climate change. Through a globally driven, locally tailored breeding program, BASF develops new hybrid wheat with value-added traits for increased yield and quality as well as disease and insect resistance. By utilizing diverse genetics from key wheat-growing regions, BASF researchers select the best plant traits from genetically distinct parental lines. With this, the company addresses the needs of farmers and partners along the entire value chain to enable yield stability as well as better climate resilience.
To optimize crop production, BASF has developed an intelligent plant modelling platform that delivers precise agronomic recommendations based on continual data analysis. It processes economic, biological and sustainability parameters to provide digital agronomic consulting to farmers, enabling them to achieve efficient and environmentally sound crop cultivation. The platform data is used in various products from xarvio® Digital Farming Solutions. For example, in Smart Spraying developed with Bosch, the data is paired with high-tech camera sensors and software to spot apply herbicide to weeds only where needed. Field trials show that this combination of technology can deliver herbicide volume savings of up to 70%. This represents an important contribution to environmental protection while offering financial benefits for farmers.
Changes to research design – shifting from sequential to parallel research – also represent a trail-blazing approach for sustainable innovations. With this methodology, products and applications are developed holistically from the very beginning and sustainability aspects are taken into account in the early R&D stages. BASF successfully developed the new fungicide Revysol® in this way. This active ingredient from the chemical class of triazoles demonstrates strong biological performance against a number of relevant fungal diseases. At the same time, it meets all requirements for safe and environmentally compatible application.
Livestream and more information about the presentations at the research press conference at: basf.com/research-press-conference