When Bayer researchers plant a soybean seed for field testing, that single seed does not disappear into a field of seeds to be aggregated at the end of the season according to its average potential. Each individual seed becomes its own data point. It is GPS-mapped to a precise spacing and placement and is monitored according to the specific conditions it experiences.
The Bayer new centralized seed distribution process currently manages hundreds of millions of these individual seeds. It is one of many transformative technologies that are aimed at determining not only which seed is best for a soybean grower’s specific field, but also how to manage every square foot of that field to ensure that each seed is pulling its weight toward Bayer’s lofty performance goals.
A complete transformation
New tools such as advanced analytics, imaging platforms, and artificial intelligence are changing the way Bayer researchers gather and understand data and develop new soybean products. With these capabilities, Bayer has re-imagined what its breeding program could look like. The fruits of that investment are starting to roll out now, such as XtendFlex® soybeans, due to launch in 2021 on a potential of 20 million acres (pending regulatory approvals), and coming 4th and 5th generation herbicide-tolerance traits, which will provide additional herbicide tolerances to offer growers more flexibility.
And that is only the beginning. “The way new soybean varieties are created will be completely transformed by the end of the decade,” says Laura Grapes, who leads Product Systems in the Bayer North America Breeding program. “Solutions that soybean growers will see from Bayer in the next five to 10 years are being built on this entirely new platform.”
Coming new technologies
With one of the industry’s largest seed genetics libraries, the Bayer breeding advancements are driving soybean yield improvements faster and higher than ever before, with added investment in areas like stress tolerance, disease/pest resistance, and plant growth and development.
“Our breeders are able to stack a lot of benefit into one little seed,” says Jennifer Ralston, who leads Bayer’s soybean crop strategy. “Bayer is an industry leader in innovation, and we believe our pipeline is unique in the number of stacked herbicide tolerant traits in soy that we have coming. We are excited to continue our testing in hopes of advancing these products in the pipeline and, eventually, bringing them to market.”
Advancements are coming in other areas too, Ralston notes. “On the crop protection front, early safety testing and tailored screening approaches, combined with new data tools, mean that over the past five years, Bayer has doubled the number of new crop protection products in early development and testing,” she says. More new product candidates means a greater chance of finding the best technology for every acre.
Coming new products include new formulations of Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides, such as Roundup PowerMAX® 3 herbicide which launched this year, and new Delaro® Complete fungicide*, which is showing a positive yield response in 91 percent of soybean trials (data from 65 separate trials) conducted across the Midwest in 2019. Delaro®Complete promotes healthy, dark green leaves for improved photosynthesis and increases grain fill and plant stress resistance to utilize the full genetic potential and yield of seed. Additionally, a new herbicide is in development: the first new post-emergence mode of action for broad-acre weed control in 30 years.
Climate FieldView™ Platform also has some exciting projects underway in 2020. Regional soy placement models now include actual grower data, and side-by-side trials which give growers the ability to compare fields to better identify top-performing seeds.
Re-imagining integrated solutions
Just as emerging technologies are speeding improvements in all facets of life, hi-tech advancements offer benefits in agriculture to those poised to take advantage of them. Bayer’s whole-farm focus – with expertise in seeds, traits, chemistry and digital – provides the breadth and depth to re-imagine integrated solutions for growers.
Whether investing in futuristic technologies or better ways to gather and understand data, says Ralston, “At the end of the day, we are working to ensure that a soybean farmer’s investment will yield high returns that can be counted on in every field.”
*This product is not currently available for commercial sale or commercial planting. Commercialization is dependent on multiple factors, including successful conclusion of the regulatory process. The information presented herein is provided for educational purposes only, and is not and shall not be construed as an offer to sell.
**No dicamba may be used in-crop with seed in the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System, unless and until approved or specifically permitted, and no dicamba formulations are currently registered for such use in the 2021 season.
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