It’s All About the C’s
Earlier this March I was fortunate enough to spend some time at two different locations in Europe to connect with others working in agriculture. As the head of Research and Development for the Crop Science division at Bayer, I believe that the way we need to innovate in the future will be different than how we’ve done it in the past in order to solve the daunting world challenges like feeding the 9 billion people by 2050 and finding new technologies to help protect crops against changes in climatic conditions. While I am proud to lead the 4800 scientists and technical staff who are located across the globe, I know it will take more than just us to generate the new solutions and technologies that will enable growers to produce safe and quality food, feed and fiber. So this brings me to the C’s…it’s all about collaboration, cooperation, and connection. No one company can solve these challenges or bring awareness to an issue by working alone. Let’s take a look at the three C’s:
Bayer is proud to be collaborating with the Australian Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) through our Herbicide Innovation Partnership (HIP), an innovative cooperation model to jointly discover next-generation weed control solutions. This five-year agreement funded with AUD 45 million over five years has led to 39 scientists now being employed at Bayer’s Frankfurt site. Besides welcoming the scientists, Bayer and GRDC inaugurated the new research laboratories in Frankfurt. Eleven of these new scientists are postdoctoral researchers from Australia and New Zealand who will work on new solutions against resistant weeds for Australia and beyond. This is so important as weed resistance has grown 60 percent in the last 15-years so that a quarter of the worst and most common weeds are already resistant. At the same time, no truely new herbicide mode of action has been discovered for over 20 years. I had a chance to talk with Darren, one of these bright scientists, about what this partnership meant for him. Although he hasn’t had much experience in ag before starting to work for Bayer, he recognizes how important this collaboration is for Australian farmers. They are funding this partnership and thus investing into research here in Germany because they desperately need new solutions against weeds and believe in our capabilities to find some.
Adrian and Darran, postdoctoral researcher from Australia, in the refurbished weed research lab in Frankfurt.
My journey didn’t end in Frankfurt. I traveled to Belgium where we are cooperating with Ghent University on a joint initiative to stimulate the sustainable development of agriculture: the endowed chair ‘Bayer ForwardFarming.’This special chair aims to unite scientific insights and practical knowledge to strengthen Belgian agriculture in the light of future challenges. The chair Prof. Marc Van Meirvenne, dean of the faculty of bioengineering at Ghent University, will lead a team of researchers that will compare a number of possibilities of ‘smart farming’ to current practices on the Forward Farm in Huldenberg. Through this cooperation between the Prof. Van Meirvenne, us and Jan and Josse Peeters, the combined results of soil sensing, tests with targeted fertilization, crop and yield monitoring should generate new scientific insights to continue to improve modern production agriculture.
Adrian Percy stressed the importance of R&D and innovation to address agriculture’s future challenges at the Bayer ForwardFarming Chair Inauguration in Belgium.
Which leads me to my third C, connections. Just recently we launched Bayer’s Grants4Targets initiative. The program is aimed at finding innovative approaches in the field of weed, disease and pest control in crop plants. This initiative is a way to connect to more bright and diverse minds from academic groups, start-ups and other crop science specialists. Our goal is to find new solutions for increased crop productivity. The answers often come when more than one mind is contributing to the process. You can apply for a grant online or learn more here: Grants4Targets.Bayer.com/CropScience. The next deadline for submissions is May 31st.
Liam Condon and Richard Clark, Chairman of GRDC, inaugurate the weed research new lab in Frankfurt.
I’d love to hear how you think innovation in agriculture will happen in the future. You can reach me @AdrianPercy2 and let me know your thoughts.
Adrian Percy is the Global Head of Research and Development for Crop Science, a Division of Bayer. Follow @Bayer4Crops and @Bayer4CropsUS on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest Crop Science news, and follow @AdrianPercy2 to follow along with as he #AgVocates for modern agriculture.