How Does a 150 Year Old Company Continue to Innovate? We Asked the Guy in Charge.
Monday, February 22, 2016
Adrian Percy is the Global head of Research and Development for the Crop Science division of Bayer and an advocate for modern agriculture, education and exciting new technologies. If you want to talk innovation and the future of agriculture, Adrian’s your guy. He shared his thoughts just in advance of his R&D meeting being held in Research Triangle Park, NC. Here’s what he had to say:
Bayer has been around for more than 150 years. That’s longer than we’ve had the Periodic Table of Elements! How does Bayer continue to innovate?
As well as you may know the Periodic Table of Elements from Chemistry classes back in high school or college, you may not know that new elements are still being discovered… we’ve had four new ones added in the last few months! The Periodic Table hasn’t stood still and neither has Bayer. We explore new areas and focus our science on helping to tackle some of the hardest challenges in agriculture, like weed resistance or pest and disease pressures, to help give growers better tools for their farms. It’s exciting to work in an area where I constantly see new technologies emerging. And beyond the research bench, if you look at digital farming, for example, that’s an exciting new space we’re able to explore today in a way that simply wasn’t possible even a few years ago. It’s an innovative space that is certainly not static.
In 2016, Bayer is focusing on Life Sciences. How will we see that in action?
It’s a great opportunity for our scientists to interact and exchange across divisions inside the new Bayer. We will see our scientists’ ability to harness the full power of the Bayer research and development effort to work at a grand scale. Now we have a global research engine aimed at improving the health of humans, animals and plants by exploring, finding and developing new types of products. Science is at its best when it brings in new ideas and fresh perspectives, and we’re fortunate to have that ability within our own company.
What will the future of farming look like for kids that are just entering elementary school or middle school?
The future of agriculture is incredibly bright and exciting, and we need the best talent in the world to help farmers do what they do even better. It can take more than 10 years for a product to come to the market after the initial discovery. When we first dreamt of the tools we’re just bringing to market today, we could barely envision how much technology would change in the coming decade. We didn’t even have iPhones yet! We can only imagine the technology we can bring to bear in the next 10 years and where that could take us. Agriculture is at the forefront of many of the biggest issues of our time, from climate change to health and nutrition. For people who want to change the world for the better, agriculture is the place to be.
What would you tell college students about careers in agriculture?
Agriculture is at the forefront of many emerging technologies and is a place where young people can make a huge difference. Tractors and combines drive themselves. Drones scout crops. Biotech traits and seeds are helping do things that weren’t possible even a decade ago. When you think of farming, no one should just be thinking of overalls and pitchforks because the field is constantly evolving. We need the best and brightest from many disciplines to really make a difference. We need chemists, statisticians, geneticists, engineers, molecular biologists, entomologists, plant pathologists… the list goes on and on. Everybody eats, but only 2% of us have a direct connection to agriculture. We’ll need all the experience, support and passion we can get to advance technology and help feed the planet of 9 billion people in 2050.
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.