Sustainable Agriculture: The Big Picture

Sustainable agribusiness relies on innovation. Crop Science is doing its part.

Countless conference speakers have proclaimed it. A thousand websites have reported it. Even the United Nations has weighed in. Everyone agrees: with population growth proceeding at its current pace, we'll have nearly 9 billion people living, growing and searching for sustenance by 2050.

The greatest impact of industrialization is the global population boom. By mid-century, we will have 9 billion people to feed. The historical perspective is staggering. As the chart below illustrates, the most dramatic influence of the industrial revolution hasn’t been the rapid growth of urbanization or the emergence of climate change or even the exponential growth of food production. The greatest impact of industrialization is the global population boom.

By 1000 A.D., the human population crested 300 million people for the first time. Five hundred years later, we had added a mere 200 million more. We numbered one billion at the advent of the industrial age. Just two hundred years later we have multiplied the population six fold, and are set to reach 9 billion people by midcentury.

Planetary Appetites and the Role of Sustainable Agriculture

Leading agribusiness companies like Crop Science find themselves in a position both enviable and daunting, as they are bound to play a major role in the world’s ability to feed its masses over the coming decades. But it is a challenge that Crop Science, and many other similar organizations, have embraced. Thanks in large part to the boom in biotechnology and sustainable agriculture since the 1950s, American farming is the most productive on earth. A single American farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people—a tremendous accomplishment—and the cornerstone of food production for a booming population.

Growers around the world will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than they have in the last 10,000 years combined.

Yet if biotechnology has helped transform agriculture—global grain yields alone have risen 250 percent since the birth of Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution in the 1950s—the future calls for even greater growth. Crop Science estimates that to provide adequate nutrition for projected population growth by 2050, humanity will have to produce more food than it has in the last 10,000 years. In other words, we need another revolution.

Bayer's Investment in Innovation Helps Feed the World

We're working on it. Bayer has increased R&D funding for Seeds & Traits, as well as Environmental Science, by 16 percent in 2011. By 2018, the company will invest nearly €3.5B in innovation, pursuing new approaches to sustainable agriculture in American farming.

These investments are broadly cast: Crop Science has funded the construction of expansive new biofacilities at its Research Triangle Park North American Headquarters, notably a greenhouse laboratory for the cultivation and curation of new seed types and traits. It has also built a Cotton Research and Development Laboratory in Lubbock, Texas, where it conducts next-generation molecular breeding activities and genetic analyses in efforts to deliver high-performance cottonseed to market.

Products like Bayer’s Poncho®/VOTiVO® seed treatment exemplify the company’s commitment to innovation. Using a biological mode of action with a unique bacteria strain, Poncho/VOTiVO combines the most trusted seed-applied insecticide for corn with the most revolutionary, complete nematode protection on the seed, to control pests on corn, soybean and cotton crops.

Poncho/VOTiVO seed treatment has been shown to boost corn yields over Avicta® with Cruiser® 500 by an average of 2 to 3 bu/A acres over a three-year period. New product launches reflect the diversity of the company’s investment. Products such as Luna® fungicide bring new biological solutions to market, expanding grower options for crop protection; while Alion™ herbicide introduces refined chemistries to combat weed resistance. Emesto™* grain protectant and EverGol™* grain protectant will broaden the industry’s portfolio of fungicidal grain protectants, strengthening the ability of producers to defend their crops against leading biotic threats. Other Crop Science products

Long-term investments in cereals, campaigns to popularize low-dose chemistries in corn and soybean, and efforts to enhance the fiber content of cotton to meet stringent quality requirements of international markets, are all examples of innovation in action. Low-dose chemistries, for instance, reduce the labor costs of product handling, mixing, cleaning, and disposing of rinsate, not to mention lowering the environmental impact of packaging and transportation. Innovations like these can save growers and retailers time and money, and boost productivity for the future.

Crop Science is active on several fronts. Yet challenges persist: 925 million people are malnourished, and one billion more subsist on a dollar a day. Whether working to feed populations or better clothe them, for  Crop Science employees the pursuit of “science for a better life” is more than a catchy slogan. Increasingly, it is a global imperative.

Contact your local Crop Science US representative to discuss innovative solutions for your fields.

*Emesto and Emerion are not registered and not available for sale.

Works Cited

  • "Bayer CropScience's Commitment to the Future." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 4 Apr. 2011. Web. 06 June 2011.
  • "The Second Green Revolution." Bayer CropScience. Web. 06 June 2011.
  • "BCS Ag Issues Forum." 2010 Commodity Classic. Anaheim, CA, 2010. Lecture.
  • Klein, Jeffrey D. "Ending Hunger." USAToday April 2011: 10. Print. 

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