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Syngenta Seeds brings research facility to farmers

Sierra Day Syngenta Seeds staff and community leaders break ground for the new Syngenta Seeds R&D Innovation Center in Malta, Ill.
GROUNDBREAKING: Syngenta Seeds staff and community leaders break ground where the new Syngenta Seeds R&D Innovation Center in Malta, Ill., will be built.
A new research and development innovation center in Malta, Ill., will allow growers to learn and provide feedback to scientists.

Syngenta Seeds has broken ground on a new facility for seed development and research in northern Illinois. 

“We wake up and we ask ourselves, ‘What can we do today to serve a farmer?’ That’s really our ambition,” says G.W. Fuhr, head of U.S. sales for Syngenta Seeds. “This site groundbreaking in Malta, Ill., is really a testament to that commitment.”

The center will help bring together different branches of product development and different types of research, says Warren Kruger, North America head of seed development.  

The location of the innovation center allows for proximity to farmers.

“We need to not only showcase the innovations we’re working on, but we really need to understand firsthand directly from the partners,” Kruger says. “It’s a convergence and innovation center that brings all these different disciplines of science together that leads to greater products, but we also wanted to leave a seat at the table and allow farmers to come to that table.”

Events held at the facility will allow for growers to learn from scientists and share their thoughts and experiences. Kruger says the 88-acre facility will house offices, conference rooms, lab spaces and interaction zones.

“This facility will really give us a foundation to start conversations or to continue to build upon conversation as we develop our products and strategies,” says Judd Maxwell, head of corn product placement.

Interaction between growers and scientists will provide solutions and innovations that are going to help farmers get the most out of their operations, says Eric Boeck, head of marketing for North America seed. Researchers will listen to what farmers have to say and meet their demands. On the commercial side, staff will take those innovations and help them come to life for farmers using digital tools.

Syngenta purchased 88 acres of land for the facility from Jamie Willrett of Willrett Farms.

“It’s exciting to see Syngenta make this commitment to agriculture and to the community in this location,” says Willrett, a 2010 Prairie Farmer Master Farmer. “This area is rich in agricultural heritage. Our production capabilities and the research that we’ve seen develop over the years is due to the people that are involved and their commitment to their work.”

Locals believe the new facility will benefit the community beyond agriculture. 

Colleges nearby such as Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College have programs that will allow for students to learn at the facility, says Paul Borek of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corp. These students will have skills to potentially serve as employees at this location.

Kruger says the development of this center is about completing the circle.

“While we’re excited that we can have all the different branches of science research present equally, we want to make sure that farmers have access so we can facilitate that exchange,” Kruger says. “It’s about being present in the real world. R&D is not detached; it’s part of the real world, and we want to make that interaction very much a key.”

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