The bell was run at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, June 3, by a new company with a long history – Corteva Agriscience. The product of a merger between Dow and DuPont and long predetermined to be separated as the ag business, Corteva is real. But what does it mean to the market and to farmers?
Farm Progress caught up with Rajan Gajaria, executive vice president, business platforms, Corteva Agriscience, to discuss the new company and why its creation makes sense. “When you think about this as a pure ag company, you have 20,000 people waking up every morning working in the ag space and that’s powerful,” he says. “They have the focus, the drive, the innovation to bring to the market.”
This pure ag play is bringing together the strengths of two entities – Dow AgroSciences and DuPont Pioneer. And he says that enhances the potential for innovation beyond what each entity could do before; he was also frank about the strengths and weaknesses of the two separate players.
“Dow AgroSciences on the crop protection side with herbicides had a strong portfolio but on the seed side we did not have a strong germplasm pool, it was good, but not great. Pioneer has the world’s best germplasm pool, but its trait discovery was longer term with traits that might come to market in 8 to 10 years.” He added that Dow AgroSciences was ahead of Pioneer with new traits with its launch of Enlist and now Enlist E3 for the soybean market.
And finally the digital piece is coming together under Corteva with the acquisition of Granular. “None of us independently had the digital piece,” he says. “We’re now bringing crop protection, seed and digital as part of Corteva.”
The pure ag play is also the story of another company, the only other pure ag play in the market – Syngenta, which Gajaria acknowledged, then pointed out that Corteva is the “only U.S.-based pure ag global company.” It’s a dig farmers are likely to hear more as the new company gets rolling.
Looking at the pipeline
When you talk crop protection pipeline, often you hear big numbers regarding the new products coming to market. For this conversation, Gajaria was clear he was talking strictly about active ingredients, and new ones with new modes of action.
“When you look at the entire industry for the crop protection side and through regulatory data, one out of four active ingredients are coming from Corteva in the next five years,” Gajaria observes. “We have a diverse portfolio for Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the United States.”
When talking about new active ingredients, Gajaria was clear that many new products will bring new modes of action to market and will be part of a strategy to reduce resistance management issues. But products will also be more naturally inspired or derived. “We’ll have more Green Chemistry awards than the rest of the industry put together based on active ingredients,” he adds.
To give an example of this “green approach” a new rice herbicide, Rinskor, that offers effective control at a low dose – 10 grams per hectare (about 4.8 grams per acre). “You can put two nickels together and that’s the amount of product there is on a hectare,” Gajaria points out. “We got registration in Europe two years before our internal expectation not only for efficacy but because of its environmental profile. That [speed of registration] is almost unheard of in Europe.”
Tough planting year
Parked planters and flooded fields are of bigger concern these days than whether there is a new input supplier to agriculture. But Pioneer is a big player in #plant19 and Gajaria says the company is working fast to help farmers get the seed at the maturities they need. “Our business model is in the backyard of the farmer and we can turn things around better than most when a farmer needs more of a shorter maturity, we can have the product in a pickup and on [their farm] as soon as possible,” he says.
He notes that Corteva is a global company and the pain of the U.S. planting season may have an impact, but it will be mitigated by its global reach. He was also quick to note, however, that the spring planting challenge – 67% of the corn crop planted by June 3 – was not missed by company management.
“During our visit to the New York Stock Exchange starting a new company it was an extremely celebratory environment,” he says. “But there was a poignant moment when we took time to think about our farmer customers. Jim Collins [CEO, Corteva] announced that we will be making donations to Farm Bureau groups starting in Iowa and Nebraska to help flood victims.”
Gajaria says there are two messages he thinks farmers can take from the creation of the new company.
First is that “we are here from an innovation standpoint with complete solutions in crop protection, seed and digital and we are in this to give them solutions in the short, medium and long term.”
Second, he adds that Corteva management understands that “improving their profitability is key and that is who we are as a company. The first two words of our corporate statement – ‘Enriching life’ - will involve working to help the farmer make more profit.”
You can learn more about the new company at corteva.com.